Paratarsotomus Macropalpis, a Mite, Is World's Fastest Land Animal

Tuesday, 29 Apr 2014 05:50 PM

By Ronald Kessler

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Paratarsotomus macropalpis, a California mite smaller than a sesame seed, has taken the title of fastest land animal.

The Paratarsotomus macropalpis can run up to 322 body lengths per second, compared with a cheetah’s top speed of 60 miles an hour, or 16 body lengths per second. A human with a similar running capacity could reach 1,300 miles per hour.

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"It's so cool to discover something that's faster than anything else, and just to imagine, as a human, going that fast compared to your body length is really amazing," Samuel Rubin, a student researcher at Pitzer College, said in a news release. "But beyond that, looking deeper into the physics of how they accomplish these speeds could help inspire revolutionary new designs for things like robots or biomimetic devices."

Rubin wrote about the findings in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

He assisted Jonathan Wright, a professor of biology at Pomona College, in the study and presented the findings at the Experimental Biology 2014 meeting in San Diego on Sunday, according to UPI.

Rubin and Wright, who ran across the Paratarsotomus macropalpis when studying the muscle biochemistry of animal legs, used a high-speed camera to record the mite and calculate its speed.

The animal was found to be good at stopping and changing directions and can run on concrete as hot as 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

"We were looking at the overarching question of whether there is an upper limit to the relative speed or stride frequency that can be achieved," Wright said in the release. "When the values for mites are compared with data from other animals, they indicate that, if there is an upper limit, we haven't found it yet."

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