Skip Navigation

Go
Species Search:
{pagetitle}

The latest in news, stories and just plain fun from the world of eNature.com.

Recent Entries

Monthly Archives

Nature’s Olympics— Who’s Really The Fastest And Strongest ?
Posted on Saturday, August 13, 2016 by eNature

The Rio Olympics opened last week and some of the world’s most remarkable athletes are pursuing Olympic Gold.

Nature, on the other hand, doesn’t award medals. 

But that doesn’t mean you won’t see some remarkable performances in Nature’s Olympics.

Athleticism, speed, strength, power, endurance, which we celebrate in the events of the Olympic Games, are basic requirements for survival in the wild. Animals perform amazing feats every day, not with the purpose of winning or being named the best, but in order to eat, mate, escape predators, and endure the elements.


Sprinting: Who’s The Fastest?
The Cheetah is said to be the fastest-running mammal on earth, with a top sprinting speed of 70 miles per hour (mph). Why does it run so fast? To catch the fleet-footed gazelles and antelopes on which it feeds. In its natural habitat in Africa, the Cheetah can outrun its fleetest prey. Like human sprinters, it cannot sprint at top speed for long and must take down its prey within a distance of about 300 yards.

If the Cheetah lived in North America, it might meet its match. The Pronghorn antelope has been clocked at close to 70 mph and can run for long distances at 30 to 45 mph. Interestingly enough, these two animals run these top speeds for different reasons: the Cheetah runs in pursuit, while the Pronghorn runs to escape.

The Peregrine Falcon is widely acknowledged to be the fastest moving bird, achieving astonishing speeds when it dives for prey. Some sources say it can top 200 mph, while others put the figure at about 120 mph. Either way, it would be hard for any other bird to escape it.

On foot, the fastest bird is the Ostrich, which can run about 40 mph. It outpaces the Greater Roadrunner, North America’s fastest running bird, which tops out at about 25 mph. Coyotes, incidentally, can also outrun roadrunners with a cruising speed of 25-30 mph and a top speed of 40 mph.

Marathon: What Creature Travels The Furthest?
The Olympic Marathon, a paltry 26 miles, doesn’t come close to the marathons some animals endure. Take the Arctic Tern, for instance. It migrates between the North and South Poles, covering a distance of as much as 30,000 miles each and every year.

Some bird species spend most of their lives in flight. Swifts, for example, have very underdeveloped legs and live almost entirely on the wing. Some seabirds, such as the Sooty Tern, have been known to fly for years without landing. The Wandering Albatross is named for its propensity to fly thousands of miles on feeding trips.

Fish can make long-distance migrations as well. Some salmon, swimming between the ocean and the rivers in which they spawn, cover 2,000 miles. European Eels are said to swim up to 3,700 miles to reach their breeding grounds in the Sargasso Sea located in the Atlantic Ocean.

The great annual migration of wildebeests and zebras in the African Serengeti covers about 2,000 miles. But the longest annual migration by a mammal is the 10,000-mile circuit made by the Gray Whale from the Arctic to its warm winter calving areas and back again.

Diving:  No Platform Needed!
The Sperm Whale is generally acknowledged to be the deepest diving mammal, but the Northern Bottlenose Whale is not far behind. The Sperm Whale is known to dive a mile (5,280 feet) or deeper and to stay under for more than 2 hours. The Bottlenose is said to dive at least 5,000 feet and is also able to remain submerged for 2 hours.

If the two were competing in an Olympic event, the odds would be about even.

There is little competition for the deepest diving bird, the Emperor Penguin, which can dive to a depth of 1,770 feet. Outside of the penguin family, the Thick-billed Murre may be one of the Emperor’s nearest competitors; it is thought to dive to 600-700 feet. Dovekies (300 feet), Loons (250 feet), Atlantic Puffins (160 feet), and Long-tailed Ducks (130 feet) are all superb divers but are no match for the Emperor Penguin.

Jumping: Going The Distance
Some types of kangaroos can leap a distance of 30 feet. White-tailed Deer, when bounding, can cover almost the same distance. But the long-jump champion is probably the inch-long Southern Cricket Frog, which makes leaps of more than 60 times its body length.

As for the high jump, the Red Kangaroo can hurdle a 10-foot fence. North America’s White-tailed Deer can hurdle an obstacle 8 1/2 feet high. Those leapers have got nothing on the lowly spittlebug though, which jumps 115 times its body height.

The deer and kangaroo would have to jump about 600 feet to compete with the spittlebug!

Strongest: Who’s The Champion Weightlifter?
No animal on earth can lift as much weight as the African Elephant, which can pick up a one-ton weight with its trunk. Relative to body size, however, the elephant doesn’t even come close to the strongest animal on earth.

What is it? The Rhinoceros Beetle. This rather strange-looking little creature can carry 850 times its own body weight. The elephant, carrying only one-fourth of its body weight, isn’t even close in this contest.

At the Olympic Games, the fastest runners, highest jumpers, and most skillful divers win medals and worldwide acclaim. In the animal world, no medals are awarded, and individuals don’t often achieve fame for their accomplishments. Rather, the amazing athletic feats performed by animals enable them to escape danger, catch food, impress a mate . . . and to live another day.


Have you observed any Olympic quality feats in the wild? 

We always love to hear your stories!

(0) CommentsPermalink

Comments

A Couple Of Comments About Leaving Comments: Only your name will appear with your comment and, since we now moderate comments to stop spammers, your comment will appear once it's approved by the blog moderator.


Name (required):

Email (required):

Please enter the word you see below:


Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments

By submitting content, I acknowledge I have read and agree to eNature’s Terms of Use

eNature Web Site Terms of Use
1. Messages and other content posted on the eNature web site express the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of eNature. Discussions on the eNature web site about other organizations, events, or resources and links to other organizations’ web sites do not constitute an endorsement by eNature.

2. By using the eNature web site, you agree not to post any message or other content that is obscene, vulgar, slanderous, threatening, or that violates any laws. Personal attacks, hateful, and racially or ethnically derogatory comments will not be tolerated.

3. You agree not to post, reproduce, distribute or exploit any information on the eNature web site for advertising or commercial purposes.

4. Content on the eNature web site may include intellectual property that is protected under copyright, trademark and other intellectual property laws. Such laws generally prohibit the unauthorized reproduction, distribution or exhibition of protected materials. By posting messages or other content, you represent and warrant that (a) you have the legal right to reproduce and distribute such content and (b) eNature may reproduce, adapt, perform, display, and distribute such content in any form, worldwide and in perpetuity. eNature reserves the right to delete, move or edit any messages or other content for any reason, in eNature’s sole discretion.

5. eNature does not warrant that any information on the eNature web site is complete or accurate, and will not be liable any direct, indirect, incidental, punitive or consequential damages that may result from the use or inability to use the eNature web site, including the use of or reliance on any information made available on the web site.

6. The eNature reserves the right to prohibit access by any user who violates these Terms of Use, and to make changes to these Terms of Use at any time in its sole discretion.


Advanced Search
Subscribe to newsletters

 

 

© 2008 eNature.com