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The world’s fastest animals | Live Science

A cheetah chasing an impala. (Image credit: Rocky Atkins/EyeEm via Getty Images)

The fastest animals use speed to survive and thrive in the wild, swiftly chasing down prey or escaping from predators. These record-breaking speedsters are found all over the world and across the animal kingdom, whether they are running on land, swimming in water or flying in the sky. Below are nine of the fastest animals alive today.

Although they would smoke their human counterparts, wild animals don’t take part in any Olympic races, so scientists often have to venture into the creatures’ natural habitats to find out how fast they can move. And because animals don’t necessarily travel at their fastest possible speed when humans happen to be measuring them, many of the speeds on this list are estimates — the animals could be even faster. 

Fastest animals on land

Ostrich: 43 mph (70 km/h) 

A male ostrich running in the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya (Image credit: Mary Ann McDonald via Getty Images)

Ostriches (Struthio camelus) are the largest birds on Earth and the fastest birds on the ground, but they don’t fly. They use their long, powerful legs to run up to 43 mph (70 km/h) in short bursts, according to the San Diego Zoo. Ostriches grow up to 9 feet (2.7 meters) tall and can cover 10 to 16 feet (3 to 5 m) in a single stride. These giant birds use their quickness to escape danger, including predators such as lions (Panthera leo).

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