What makes cheetahs the fastest animals in the world?

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Mon, 2009-07-13 08:35 by Hans · Forum/category:

Scientists trying to figure it out (VIDEO)

July 12, 1:26 AM

Cheetahs can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in just three seconds, but scientists still don't know exactly what makes these splendid, spotted creatures so wickedly fast.

Look at that look of calm concentration as the cheetah chases the piece of chicken tied to a string.
Look at that look of calm concentration as the
cheetah chases the piece of chicken tied to a string.

Determined to find out, scientists at the Royal Veterinary College in England are using four high speed cameras—recording at 1,000 frames per second, a running track, a piece of chicken tied to string, and North African cheetahs from a local zoo to analyzing the mechanics of the cheetahs' movements.

Is it their assymetrical gait that's the key to the cheetahs' astonishing speed? The roation of their shoulder blades when they run? Their flexible spine? Or is it a combination of all three, plus other factors, such as the way the big cats stretch way out when they're galloping?

To date, the fastest recorded speed that cheetahs have achieved is 64 miles per hour. That was with a captive cheetah chasing food tied to the back of a speeding truck. But scientists believe that cheetahs in the wild can actually run even faster. It's a matter of being able to accurately record it. 

Sadly, cheetahs have become an endangered species with only an estimated 12,000 remaining in the world.

Source: BBC News