Tiny mite beats out cheetah as world's fastest land animal

A Southern California mite holds the record for the world's fastest land animal.
A Southern California mite holds the record for the world's fastest land animal. © Samuel Rubin/Pitzer College

A mite found in Southern California has broken the record to become the fastest land animal in the world.

The mite Paratarsotomus macropalpis, which is no bigger than a sesame seed, was studied by a team of researchers based at Pomona College in Claremont.

They clocked it moving at 322 body lengths per second, a measure that takes into account an animal's size relative to its speed.

By comparison, a Cheetah running at 60 miles per hour moves at only 16 body lengths per second and a human moving at the mite's speed would be running 1300 miles per hour.

Lead researcher Jonathan Wright, who teaches biology at Pomona College, said they had to use a novel approach to measure the speed of the tiny creature.

“We can’t actually chase after a mite because they move much too quickly for that. We’re actually filming them running on a concrete driveway."

The team analyzed the film afterwards and were surprised to find that not only was the mite exceptionally fast, it also had the ability to run on concrete the sun had heated to 140 degrees Farenheit, and to stop and change direction quickly.

The mite unseats the previous record-holder, the Australian Tiger Beetle, which reached speeds of 171 body lengths per hour.

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