In the animal kingdom, the fastest animals you’ll find are usually predators who use their incredible agility to overtake and overpower their prey. In fact, if you look closely enough, you’ll find a huge correlation between a predator’s speed and hunting success.
A common misconception that most people believe is that predators are the only animals who can reach incredibly high-top speeds. We’re here to change that perception. In this article, we’ll list some of the fastest animals in the world, including both predators and non-predators. Let’s get straight into the list.
The Fastest Animals in the World
Probably one of the most famous predators in the world, cheetahs are indeed the fastest land animal that can reach a top speed of 75 mph or 120 km/h. Cheetahs are the largest cats native to Africa and some parts of western and southern Asia. These majestic beasts have a unique body composition, which allows them to reach strides of over 7 meters. These features include semi-retractable claws, a flexible spine and incredibly long legs.
On top of that, cheetahs have rounded foot pads that allow them to turn while chasing their prey. This ensures that no animal is safe if a cheetah decides to hunt unless the animal has wings and can fly off! Despite all these incredible feats of speed, cheetahs are still an endangered species due to excessive hunting by humans. Constant efforts are made to ensure these incredible species are provided with special habitats to survive in this world.
Here’s a fun fact about cheetahs: They can hit 100 meters in just three seconds – which is faster than most cars – but fails to maintain their top speed for over half a minute.
#2. Peregrine Falcon
When talking of the fastest animals in the world, there’s no way we can discount the speed of birds, specifically Peregrine Falcons. These gorgeous flight birds are the fastest in the world based purely on their level of flight speed, which ranges from 40-60 mph to 64-97 km/h. Moreover, their incredible diving or swooping speed sets them apart from the rest, as they can reach a maximum speed of 240 mph or 385 km/h during a hunting dive.
Peregrine Falcons are among the few birds with a swept-back wing form, which probably gives them the edge when diving at prey. Couple that with their highly efficient respiratory system with a large heart and lungs that allow them to utilize more oxygen. It is perhaps also why they’re considered one of the most resilient birds in the world as well.
Diverting to sea animals for a moment, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention how impressed we are by the incredibly versatile Sailfish, one of the fastest deep-sea animals in the world. Sailfish can reach top speeds of 68 mph or 110 km/h in the water due to their streamlined body and unique circulatory system that helps keep their body temperature warm, even in cold water. This allows them to swim fast, even in less-than-ideal conditions.
Another unique feature has to be their giant dorsal fin attached to the back of their body. This fin acts and looks like a sail and can be raised or lowered to control its speed and maneuverability, giving them their name of sailfish.
#4. Black Marlins
Black Marlins are the next marine creature on our list of the world’s fastest animals. The fact that Black Marlins are among the largest species of Marlins, which offers them an advantage in terms of producing extra speed through their mass and momentum, is also bizarre because creatures with a lot of mass typically find it difficult to gain speed when they’re stationary.
But these fish are an exception, as they can reach top speeds of 80 mph or 130 km/h. Their super stiff dorsal fin also helps them achieve this feat by stabilizing their body while trying to maintain their top speed.
#5. Pronghorn Antelope
Coming back to land animals, the perfect example of an animal that’s not a predator but can still reach ridiculous top speeds in full motion is a Pronghorn Antelope. These herbivore creatures can reach up to 60 mph or 97 km/h. They’re also among the only animals to consistently go at this top speed for extended periods due to their extra powerful leg muscles and superior vision.
Talking more about their eyesight, these speedy land runners have a 320-degree field of vision and the ability to detect movement from up to 4 miles which helps them detect their predators incredibly quickly and evade them before they even get a chance to get close. Lastly, pronghorn antelopes also have a relatively light body, allowing them to reach their top speed rather quickly due to their reduced mass.
#6. Blue Wildebeest
Another species of antelope that’s gained quite the reputation for being one of the fastest land animals in the world is Blue Wildebeest. With their ability to reach top speeds of 50 mph or 80 km/h, Blue Wildebeests, just like Pronghorn Antelopes, are known to consistently maintain that speed over incredibly long distances without tiring themselves out. The primary reason for their incredible speed has to be their large and muscly legs.
Unlike pronghorn antelopes, Blue Wildebeests are bulky and heavy, making it an even more remarkable feat that they run at that speed. Their flexible spine also helps them out a lot; it supports their sharp turns and abrupt changes in direction while running from a predator. They’re also social animals that hang around in a herd which also helps them detect predators more quickly.
#7. Quarter Horse
Horses have always maintained a good reputation for being incredibly fast. However, they’ve never been considered one of the fastest animals in the world. That is until humans started timing the runs of quarter horses and realized that they could reach top speeds of 55 mph or 88 km/h in short sprints and could even maintain this top speed over some pretty large distances, typically up to a quarter of a mile (hence the name quarter horses).
Since then, these horses have been used in horse racing, polo and several other equestrian sports. This ability to gain speed incredibly quickly comes from the power of their muscular legs and low center of gravity. They can gain momentum even while taking shorter strides than some of the other fastest land animals in the world.
One of the most majestic flight animals in the world, Frigatebirds are an incredible breed that can reach top speeds of 95 mph or 153 km/h and can look exceptionally beautiful while doing it. These super lightweight birds have a unique flying style which allows them to harass and bully other birds in the air into giving up their prey to them.
This flying style, known as “kleptoparasitism”, makes Frigatebirds one of the most efficient and skilled hunters in the air. Their lightweight nature and extensive wing span also allow these marvelous birds to fly for days on end and cover huge distances without stopping.
Dolphins are one of the world’s most friendly and docile animals. They’ve been well-documented to be incredibly loving and friendly towards animals. Some would even swim with them for long distances to show their affection. But did you know that Dolphins are also one of the fastest sea animals in the world?
These mesmerizing sea creatures can reach top speeds of up to 37 mph or 60 km/h for large distances. This is no surprise when you consider how streamlined their torpedo-shaped bodies are. Plus, unlike other fish, their smooth skin contains no scales, which makes going through the water at high speeds easier. Their muscular tail also plays a huge role as it is their primary propellant as they dive and rise through the sea.
Rounding out the last entry on this list is the well-renowned Swordfish. This amazing sea creature is known for its distinct sword-like bill and incredibly high-top speeds. On average, a swordfish can reach up to 60 mph or 97 km/h. Their pointed bill and streamlined bodies allow them to move more efficiently in the water by reducing drag resistance. They use their own body as hydrofoils.
Another unique feature that allows them to push the water away more easily is their muscular bodies. This is possible because of their high percentage of red muscle fibers. Swordfish also possess the amazing ability of thermoregulation. This allows them to regulate their body temperature to keep their muscles warm in different conditions.
Did some of these animals appear in your head when you thought about the fastest animals in the world? Or was it a completely surprising list for you? We hope this article helped you increase your knowledge about the fastest animals.