Who is the fastest animal in the world? It probably won’t surprise you that the cheetah is the fastest land mammal. They can reach speeds of 100 km/h in just 3.5 seconds.
But what other animals make the list for fast creatures? And who is the fastest animal ever, on land, by air or by sea?
Here’s a list of six animals that can move super fast (even faster than your car!), including the fastest animal in the world – plus some honorable mentions.
Fastest land animals in the world
Average top speed: 70 mph
Why they are so fast: Cheetahs are built for speed, with their small heads, long legs and slender bodies, similar to one of the fastest dogs, the greyhound.
Cheetahs also have a double-sprung gait, which means that all four legs are off the ground at the same time, both when contracted and expanded. For reference, horses and greyhounds also have this type of gait, while most dogs have a single sprung gait.
American antelope (or pronghorn)
Average top speed: 55 mph
Why they are so fast: American antelopes are the fastest animals over long distances, while cheetahs are the fastest over short sprints. They have large lungs and a lot of hemoglobin (a protein that carries oxygen) in their blood that allows enough oxygen to circulate and help their muscles. They probably evolved so fast to outrun predators that are now extinct, such as American cheetahs.
Fastest sea creatures in the world
Average top speed: 80mph
Why they are so fast: Black marlins have slender bodies with long, thin fins. Their beaks (the upper part of their jaws that stick out) may help reduce water resistance.
Average top speed: 67 mph
Why they are so fast: The bodies of sailfish are built to be hydrodynamic (meaning they can move through water with ease). To help them swim quickly, they can even fold down their dorsal fins (the sail-like fin on their backs) along with some of their other fins to reduce drag.
Fastest animals in the world that fly
Average top speed: 242 mph (dive speed), 40 to 60 mph (flight speed)
Why they are so fast: With a diving speed of over 200 mph, peregrine falcons are not only the fastest birds, but also the fastest animals in the world. They have large keels (sternums), which provide more muscle and more power when flying. These birds also have pointed, curved wings and stiff feathers that reduce drag. Peregrine falcons also have highly efficient circulatory and respiratory systems, allowing extra oxygen to flow to their muscles.
Average top speed: 200 mph (dive speed), 28 to 32 mph (flight speed)
Why they are so fast: Golden eagles have a large wingspan — about 6 to 7 feet wide — that gives them tons of power when flying.
Some runners-up who are also super fast include:
- Whitethroated needle tail (105 mph)
- Eurasian hobby (100 mph)
- Mexican free-tailed bat (100 mph)
- Frigatebird (95 mph)
- Swordfish (60 mph)
- Quarter horse (55 mph)
- Springbok (50mph)
- Thompson’s gazelle (50 mph)
- Blue wildebeest (50 mph)
- Lion (50 mph)
- Black Buck (50mph)
- Brown Hare (48 mph)
- Greyhound (46 mph)
- Kangaroo (44 mph)
- African wild dog (44 mph)
For even more wildlife facts, check out these articles: