CHASING A CHEETAH: The cheetah is the Bugatti Veyron of the animal world, achieving speeds of 29 ms-1 (65 mph),…

CHASING A CHEETAH: The cheetah is the Bugatti Veyron of the animal world, achieving speeds of 29 ms-1 (65 mph), almost twice as fast as their nearest rival, the greyhound. Yet, both have a similar build and use a rotary gallup as opposed to the transverse gallop used by a horse.

• To chase down the cheetah’s secret, researchers buried 8 force plates in an enclosure of UK’s ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and tempted the big cats to sprint after a piece of chicken attached to a truck starter motor. Filming at 1000 frames s-1, they measured the forces exerted on the animals’ limbs, their body motion and footfall patterns. They did the same with trained greyhounds.

• The cheetah’s stride was slightly longer than the grayhound’s. But a striking difference was their ability to change gears: increasing stride frequency from 2.4 strides s–1 at a leisurely 9 m s–1, rising to 3.2 strides s–1 at 17 m s–1. In the wild, they probably reach 4 strides s-1! In contrast, greyhounds maintained a constant stride rate around 3.5 strides s–1 across their entire speed range. Cheetahs also had a longer stance time (length of time the foot stayed on the ground), which is thought to translate to greater acceleration.

The Cars ~ Dream Away

“You better take it on the run, there’s a cheetah walking high

Liquid whispers dragonfly, charleston booties on painted toes”

REF: Hudson, P. E., Corr, S. A. and Wilson, A. M. (2012). High speed galloping in the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) and the racing greyhound (Canis familiaris): spatio-temporal and kinetic characteristics. J. Exp. Biol. 215, 2425-2434.


Fastest Car:


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94 Responses to CHASING A CHEETAH: The cheetah is the Bugatti Veyron of the animal world, achieving speeds of 29 ms-1 (65 mph),…

  1. Chad Haney says:

    Reminds me of the work of one of my collaborators (the guy with the primate skulls I imaged). He’s getting an x-ray system to image animal movement, in vivo, ad libitum. It’s very similar to the CGI method of video recording a subject against a green wall with special balls taped to the subject. Here’s an example, but I don’t know if it is the same system.

    As a side note, the Bugatti Veyron Super Sports (267 MPH) is the fastest production car, i.e., street legal.

  2. Nothing is fleetah than a cheetah.

    A cheetah is a winner not a cheater.

  3. Rajini Rao says:

    Very cool link, Chad Haney . Re. the car, yes..I should have specified that 🙂

  4. Rajini Rao says:

    Nobilangelo Ceramalus 

    Lovely cheetah, fleeter mate

    Where would I be without you?

    Give us a hint and make me sprint like you.

    -Apologies to the Beatles

  5. Fred Gandt says:

    65mph is just amazing. Great photo too! Thanks Rajini Rao.

  6. Chad Haney says:

    Greyhounds are beautiful to watch in action. There are a few in the neighborhood. One of them is a regular at the park. My dog is silly enough to think she can catch Lola the greyhound. There’s also an Italian greyhound she likes to chase or be chased by.

    Dogs 101: Greyhound

  7. Rajini Rao says:

    Chad Haney , interestingly, the trained racing greyhounds used in this study outran the captive cheetahs! Apparently, the zoo animals have been bred in captivity were not really “motivated” as they would be in the wild 🙂 Greyhounds are slim elegant creature..checking out your vid.

  8. What I find fascinating is the physical determinism of that one attribute: speed – greyhound physiology is very similar. They perform the ‘double-suspension gait’ – wherein the feet completely leave the ground twice in a given cycle; they also have a hinged spine allowing the hind legs to reach much farther forward and back, and strangest of all, they naturally blood-dope: when they’re released, the compression of the first ‘launch’ squeezes the spleen which releases an extra volume of blood into the circulatory system.  Cheetahs and greyhounds are both sprinters; so I wonder if there’s a similar cardiovascular effect in cheetah physiology – I’d expect there might be.

  9. Rajini Rao I’m not surprised – we’ve had many decades of breeding only the greyhounds that will run after bloody anything. Cheetahs would be more specific, I would think.

    How many greyhounds does it take to change a lightbulb?

    None – it’s not even moving.

    Greyhounds will run themselves to death – adoption of an ex-racer (or… four) involves signing a contract that you’ll never run them outside of a controlled environment; even then, accidents happen: the prey-drive kicks in and they run until hyperthermia kills them. 

  10. Rajini Rao says:

    Good morning, Feisal Kamil ! Sprinters never do sustain their speed for very long, do they? From the chases I’ve seen on TV, they just do short bursts. Let me check around.

  11. Speaking for greyhounds, Feisal Kamil, after 10 or 15 minutes of serious (but not racing-speed) running, they’re done and must be provided with a large couch.

  12. Chad Haney says:

    good morning Feisal Kamil 

  13. Chad Haney says:

    Feisal Kamil dogs don’t sweat much. Their coat usually gets smelly from dirt and their saliva. If your dog has fresh breath, it won’t have much of a smell on the coat. If your dog has bad breath, then it could have a smelly coat too.

  14. Rajini Rao says:

    That’s right…muscles run out of glucose and build up lactate, even though they have stores of phosphocreatine and glycogen.

  15. I’m surprised that no-one has mentioned how blindingly fast Cheetos® can move through the human digestive system..

  16. Chad Haney Effectively, dogs don’t sweat at all, other than some small perspiration through the paws; the rest of the body is cooled very inefficiently through panting. It’s a design that seems rather poorly thought out, imho. This is why a Goretex dog coat is a waste of money – coated non-breathable cloth is all they need.

  17. Pfff dude! Why would they call m that if they did not ROFL !!!. that is why they call it: Frikking Fast Food 😀

  18. Rajini Rao says:

    Feisal Kamil , not to hijack my own post, but have you seen this library:

  19. Feisal Kamil In the U.S. (and Canada) I think the issues are primarily: quality of the road; quality of the drivers. I’ve driven in Italy – I quickly learned to stay in the right lane. The beautiful cars don’t want you in their lane. There is no graduated licensing here, whereas in (say) Germany, if you prove you can safely drive at insane speeds, you get a license allowing you to do so. 

  20. Chad Haney says:

    David Archer that was one of the issues with reunification; the slow East German cars.

  21. o.0 uuuhm where is this going?

  22. Sander Takens Nothing less than cheetahs driving Bugatti Veyrons, while eating Cheetos. On the autobahn!

  23. Chad Haney If you haven’t seen this, this:

    Top Gear: Communist cars part 3

  24. Euhm I know the autobahn and I know that the Bugatti at full speed has an empty tank after 100km just wondering and I do like cheetos but this was Rajini Rao post 🙂

  25. Rajini Rao says:

    Haha, Sander Takens , my posts get routinely hijacked besides I am terribly distracted right now. Downloaded this paper if anyone wants a read.

  26. Gonna read it. Just not now 🙂 it is now: 02:15 on the autobahn by now and need some sleep … badly!!! Contact U later!

  27. K circles and email, I will get back to U Rajini. Thank U! Got the article in my email. Thanks again! Gimme some time. Tomorrow I got work and I will go through it this weekend is that ok?

  28. Deeksha Tare says:

    Whoa! The speed post is finally here! 🙂


    Amazing Rajini Rao !!

  29. Kevin Clift says:

    Did anyone post the video yet?  It looks like it was earlier than the most recent paper that Rajini Rao is highlighting here but shows at least the initial thinking about how to measure the motion. How do cheetahs run so fast?

  30. Rajini Rao  but they can ran at such fast speed only for a few seconds or minutes….where as bugatti as long as the fuel is there and the roads are clear…

  31. Rajini Rao says:

    Thanks for the video link, Kevin Clift . It was worth sitting through their “justifications” to see a glimpse of their set up at 3:40 when the cheetah streaked past their cameras on the force plate. Sudhanshu Pathania , the fastest animal not on land is actually a bird: the peregrine falcon, can reach ~240 mph (387 km/h)! Birds can keep it up for a distance too, probably because they take advantage of the wind dynamics. Better than a Bugatti! 🙂

  32. Chad Haney says:

    There’s a phenomenal BBC video of a falcon with a camera attached to it. You get a bird’s eye view of it’s flight. Let me dig for it. It might make Rajini Rao nauseous.

  33. Chad Haney excellent video! … this must be a (fighter) pilots wet dream like they say in the video.

  34. Rajini Rao says:

    Fantastic watch, Chad Haney

    Possibly the inspiration for that Return of the Jedi forest chase scene, as one of the commentators notes. I’ve often wondered why we don’t see more birds crashing into automobiles or trees, Even the little sparrows flit away at the last moment when a car comes at them.

  35. Rajini Rao says:

    You’ve probably seen the HD video of the owl in was making its rounds on G+. The last 15 seconds are beautiful: Full HD High Speed Movie – Eagle owl 2 – Photron SA2

  36. Chad Haney says:

    What people haven’t answered is why Raytheon has a high-speed “security” camera.

  37. It’s for when he gets a visit from the flash (forget this comment could not help myself 😉 )

  38. Chad Haney says:

    Sander Takens in case you don’t know, Raytheon is a big American defense contractor.

  39. I had no idea, But I find that whole idea just funny “high speed security” Uhu sure (not meant as a pun towards U Chad Haney)

  40. Rajini Rao  the fastest machine is  X-43A made by NASA its speed is  9.8 Mach….I don’t know exactly how much 1 mach is…bur certainly sounds much faster than falcon’s 340mph….lol

  41. well space shuttle with the speed of 20 mach can also be considered…

  42. Rajini Rao says:

    I’m afraid man-made engineers are no match for nature. The fastest enzyme is carbonic anhydrase and it operates at the diffusion limit: it can turn over at 10^6 times per second (molecular equivalent to Hertz).

  43. okkie I quit…nature wins…but don’t worry these man made engines with all those smoke they emit shall destroy nature in no time…lol

  44. Rajini Rao says:

    I tagged this post #caturday , haha!

  45. They are my kind of cats for real!!! I want one! But then it would have to message all you guys I was very tasty I am afraid 😦 And I don’t trust them with that …

  46. Feisal Kamil I am a small rodent … I don’t trust ’em with my fury little butt 😉

  47. Rajini Rao says:

    I think the household cat is indeed the spawn of an evil geneticist.

  48. Pewwwh thank you! Feisal Kamil … do love those …

    Doh! No cat  hating here Rajini Rao … I will replace you with a very tasty snack!

  49. They may be fast, but it’s a well-known fact that …

    cheetahs never prosper


  50. Kill joy!!! 😦 But you are right … unfortunately

  51. Rajini Rao says:

    Don’t listen to David Archer . He’s lion.

  52. You can’t stop me, Feisal Kamil – I will not be serval!

  53. David Archer I do now understand U where pulling my tail! This is not funny … you Lions suck !!! 😉

  54. Rajini Rao says:

    Let’s paws to consider our words before this thread turns catastrophic.

  55. Sorry I got lost somewhere. I just lose it somehow when pussy is involved. I will shut up now … Sorry again ! 😉

  56. I don’t feel well standing up – I’m going to see how I feline down.

  57. No good! I’m becoming catatonic!

  58. Rajini Rao says:

    Now that the cats out of the bag, those supurrior punners will be here to amews us further.

  59. Oops – that was a waste…

    Cheetah slowing down? Give a catatonic!

  60. Is it ok if I just shit back and enjoy the show?

  61. Rajini Rao says:

    Cat him if you can, but the cheetah is always fast and fur-ious.

  62. Sander Takens As long as you don’t litter!

  63. Rajini Rao says:

    I hope our friends join us soon because it is meow or never.

  64. Prrr Prrr Prrr … I hope they will come I love scratch behind the ear ….

  65. Thomas Kang says:

    Tsk, tsk. . . . there goes Feisal again, looking yet again for more accomplices.

    I’m sitting this one out, not because the catgut my tongue, but rather because that’s all I could come up with. BTW, Feisal, are you sure you’re not mistaking me for someone else? I’m usually a spectator when it comes to these puns. Or so I think — I’m a sucker for puns, so I may have participated eagerly without remembering. . . .

  66. Rajini Rao says:

    You’ve got to be kitten me Thomas Kang , this is all mewsic to my ears.

  67. Thomas Kang says:

    D’oh! You guys have done it again. Made me check Google for a list of feline breeds to find one that you haven’t used, then come up blank. Checkmate.

    What do cats do when they’re in heat? Mate, no? So checkmate sorta kinda works.

    I quit. You guys are no fun. And all the puns y’all’s done come up with? Well, I was just about to type them, but you beat me to it.

  68. Come on Thomas Kang we can have some fun though? Actually Rajini Rao send me a paper on cheeta bio-mechanics I still need to look at because today is #silly  saturday for me …


  69. Rajini Rao says:

    Do you have a lynx to that catalog Thomas Kang ?

  70. Rajini Rao says:

    I think we have tigered out Thomas Kang 🙂

  71. We have not even touched the alien hybrids that are out there … cause they are real !!!

  72. What does a pun about a catamount to anyway?

  73. I ocelot between enjoying this and caterwauling.

  74. I give #caturday about it …. I am a strong rodent who cares about his enemy’s :-/

  75. Thomas Kang says:

    Wow. All I can say is bravo.

    And now, Sander has created an opening for a hijacking into rodent territory. . . .

  76. Rajini Rao says:

    Cat’s All Folks! Run like a Rat out of Hell!

  77. Thomas Kang says:

    One passing reference is all it took . . . . Rajini, you must drive your family mad with eye-rolling joy.^^

  78. Rajini Rao says:

    They keep meowround for amousement.

  79. Thomas Kang says:

    Nice. Something right out of Tom & Jerrajini.

  80. Rajini Rao says:

    It’s been pun. See you on the morrow, Feisal Kamil !

  81. Rajini Rao says:

    If only I could loop the video in the nytimes link to repeat, Marc Ponomareff ! What beautiful creatures.

    Usain Bolt’s max speed of 28 mph does put things in perspective.

  82. God’s amazing creature

  83. can reach speeds of 70 mph.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  84. waw how speed is ths???!!!!!!!!

  85. save Tiger very fast

  86. A truly beautiful & graceful Cat  

  87. satish badhe says:

    bahot badiya……Rajini Rao…

  88. badiya size…….!!!!!!!!!

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