Oct 11

The natural world is full of amazing feats and facts. Last time we focused on big facts. This time, it’s all about speed fast facts…

Fastest fish

The Indo-Pacific sailfish is the fastest fish in the world. It was once thought this streamlined predator could reach speeds of up to 111km/hr in short sprints, although slower, but still impressive, speeds of 37 to 55 kilometres per hour are currently estimated.

Indo-Pacific sailfish, lateral view

Indo-Pacific sailfish


Swiftest birds

The peregrine falcon is thought to be the fastest species in the world, reaching speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. The fastest bird on land is the infamous ostrich. With a stride length of 3 to 5 metres, this giant of a bird can reach speeds up to 70 kilometres per hour when sprinting.

Female ostrich ssp. camelus running across desert

Ostrich female running


Speediest mammals

We all know that the cheetah is the fastest land mammal in the world, able to maintain a speed of up to 87 kilometres an hour for 200 to 300 metres. But did you know that the pronghorn, the fastest land mammal in the Americas, is a close match? The pronghorn can reach top speeds of up to 86 kilometres per hour, and maintain speeds of 70 kilometres per hour for several kilometres at a time.

Pronghorn running in habitat

Pronghorn herd running in habitat


Snappiest turtles

You tend not to think of turtles as fast, aggressive predators. But the frog-faced softshell turtle certainly is, having  been described as one of the fastest striking animals on the planet, with a bite that can crush bone. Luckily for us, it usually targets fish and crustaceans.

Frog-faced softshell turtle portrait

Frog-faced softshell turtle


Rapid flapping

No fast fact file would be complete without a tribute to the impressive flying abilities of hummingbirds. An incredibly quick wing beat of up to 200 beats per second means that hummingbirds, like the ruby-throated hummingbird, are able to hover and fly backwards. Unsurprisingly this uses a lot of energy, and a breathing rate of up to 500 breaths per minute is needed to meet the highest oxygen requirement of any vertebrate.

Ruby-throated hummingbird male feeding on kalanchoe flower

Ruby-throated hummingbird

Do you know of any other speedy species facts? If so, let us know!

Lauren Pascoe, ARKive Media Researcher

  • Johan (October 12th, 2011 at 10:07 am):

    Yes it seems the frogface shoftshell turtle is an military GTX model. Must be awfull to be a victim in the shallow water of this one.