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  • Horses. Greyhounds. Pronghorn antelope. These animals are among some of the world's fastest, clocking in speeds above 55 kilometers per hour!

  • Now, compared to us humanswe're relatively slow.

  • That's because on average, we run about 17 kilometers per hour.

  • But breaking away from the pack is the cheetah. It can reach speeds greater than 100 kilometers per hour, in just three seconds!

  • Some have even hit up to 75 miles per hour!

  • And that's because every part of the cheetah works together to produce this burst of speed.

  • Thanks to a combination of focus, power, flexibility, traction, and the ability to actually steer their bodies like a boat, the cheetah sits at the top as the fastest land animal on Earth!

  • Now, unlike other big cats, whose bodies evolved for power, the cheetahs evolved for speed.

  • Their bodies are aerodynamically built with small heads, light bones, and a slender body.

  • Now, let's start at the top. A cheetah has a short muzzle, small canines, and other features to help reduce the overall weight of its head.

  • All of this results in a skull that weighs just 500 grams.

  • Now, cheetahs need this light skull to make space for a large nasal cavity because cheetahs need lots of oxygen.

  • To help meet this need, they have large nostrils that allow for quick and large intakes of air,

  • while the cheetah's large chest holds its lungs and heart, which work together to help circulate the oxygen throughout its body.

  • And during a chase, that's crucial, since a cheetah can take anywhere between 60 to 150 breaths per minute!

  • This is a drastic increase since at rest, a cheetah takes in about 9 breaths per minute.

  • That means that when these cats really get going, their breathing rate goes up to sixteen times faster!

  • What's even more fascinating is that while running, you'll notice that a cheetah's head doesn't move. It stays incredibly still.

  • I mean, just think about it. If you were going 100 kilometers per hour on a highway, you have to focus, otherwise you'd probably crash.

  • Same goes for a cheetah. So focus is key.

  • But what about the power behind these sprints?

  • Well, cheetahs have incredibly powerful muscles that are built for quick bursts of speed.

  • That's because their muscles have a higher amount of a certain fiber called fast-twitch glycolytic fibers.

  • These produce quick and powerful muscle contractions to generate that burst of energy we see as a cheetah accelerates.

  • Now, while most of us might be in awe of its speed, equally impressive is a stride that measures roughly seven meters.

  • The secret behind this incredible stride: a hyper-flexible spine!

  • A bendy spine lets the cheetah's vertical shoulder blades and hips swivel, allowing its front and back legs to overlap.

  • This creates a spring motion, propelling its back legs forward with each step.

  • And for most of these strides, cheetahs are actually airbornewhich is incredible!

  • Once back on the ground, the cheetah relies on its footpads, which are tough and have ridges.

  • These act just like tire treads providing the necessary traction during a chase.

  • Now, unlike other big cats or even domestic ones, whose claws fully retract, cheetahs have semi-retractable claws, which look more like a dog's, like Henry's here.

  • So you always see their little nails, even in little track, you know, footprints and stuff.

  • Cheetah claws aren't covered by a sheath, which is a protective skin fold.

  • The absence of this skin means that these claws act like cleats, helping the cheetah (to) grip to the ground and accelerate when needed.

  • And when it's time to course-correct during a chase, it's all about the cheetah's long and muscular tail.

  • During a chase, a cheetah swings its tail, so it acts like a rudder and a counterweight.

  • This helps to stabilize the cat as it zig-zags towards its prey.

  • One thing to keep in mind: cheetahs are built for short bursts of energy.

  • So at top speed, a typical chase lasts only 30 seconds.

  • That's because the chase puts tremendous stress on every part of the cheetah's body, forcing it to rest for up to 30 minutes in order for its respiratory and heart rates to return to resting levels.

  • Okay. So, we've learned that cheetahs are incredibly fascinating animals, and every part of them works to help achieve incredible speeds.

  • But despite being the fastest, cheetahs are also Africa's most threatened big cat.

  • Over a century ago, there were roughly 100,000 cheetahs, roaming from Africa to the Middle East, to India.

  • But now, only about 7,100 are remained in the wild.

  • Habitat loss, poaching, and human-wildlife conflict are some of the biggest drivers behind this population loss.

  • And that's where conservation is so crucial to helping save this incredible animal from extinction.

  • We know so much about the cheetah that we know we can save it, and the cheetah's survival is in humans hands.

  • If we've got enough oomph with us within a human population, we can save the species.

  • When you've got such small populations of these rare and endangered species, we have a world to change.

  • And our motto from Cheetah Conservation Fund is: Save the cheetah and change the world.

  • And fun fact: Unlike other big cats, cheetahs don't roar.

  • To communicate, they chirp! And even purr like Willie here!

  • Thanks for watching Seeker's new series Tusks to Tails.

  • I'm Evan Antin, and I hope you've enjoyed this video.

  • (If) there's an animal you want us to cover, leave us a comment. I'll see you next time!

Horses. Greyhounds. Pronghorn antelope. These animals are among some of the world's fastest, clocking in speeds above 55 kilometers per hour!

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Here's Why Cheetahs Are So Much Faster Than Other Animals

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    Summer posted on 2021/10/22
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