The tiny mite, Paratarsotomus macropalpis, may not be beautiful but it's faster than a cheetah

Never run behind a car (you’ll get “exhausted”). And it goes without saying that you should never run in front of a car either (you’ll get “tired”). And if you think you can outrun a car, Reeko has news for you – you’re not as fast as you think – and neither is the speedy cheetah who, depending on your definition of “fast”, may have just lost its throne as the fastest animal on earth.

Using high-speed cameras to capture it in motion, scientists in California have discovered a tiny little mite, called Paratarsotomus macropalpis, that they say holds the record for the fastest land animal. This little guy is able to run 322 body lengths per second. If you were to scale this up to human size, it would be like running at a shoe-searing 1,300 miles per hour. The sluggish cheetah by comparison, can only run at a speed of 16 body lengths per second (64 miles per hour).

The scientists were also surprised to find that the tiny mite ran at such great speeds on concrete heated to 140 degrees, well above temperatures that would kill most land animals. [Reeko note to ants: if you see these guys with magnifying glasses – run!] Researchers plan to study how the mites’ bodies sustain such great speeds and say it will open up new possibilities in the design of robots (while Reeko says that any robot a human can’t outrun is a bad idea).

Update from Reeko: The lab cat filed a report this morning complaining that the lab rats running in circles was driving her nuts. She said she calmly asked the lab rats to stop running in circles and they simply looked at her with a confused look on their faces and continued running round and round and round. Reeko approached the lab rats and asked why they insisted on running in circles to which they replied, “We tried, honestly, but it’s just too hard to run in squares”. The report has been filed as “unresolved”.

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