Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Fastest Animal in the World (really)!

Most of us were taught growing up that the cheetah is the fastest animal that exists. While it is true that the cheetah is the fastest animal on earth, just a few thousand feet up, it’s a different story.

The peregrine falcon, a bird of prey common to most of the world, actually holds that title. The peregrine almost exclusively preys upon birds that it catches in mid-air. To hunt, it either perches or soars high above the ground scanning for birds. When prey is spotted, the falcon folds in its wings and feet to streamline itself, and begins a high-speed dive, called a stoop. In this dive, the falcon may reach speeds of over 200mph, usually stunning its prey by striking it with a closed talon.

Peregrine falcon in captivity. Photo: Carl Mueller
 Until recently, scientists were unsure just how fast peregrine falcons really went in their dives. In the below video by National Geographic, scientists were able to record one such dive where the falcon reached 242mph! And they may be able to go even faster…

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