The title of "fastest land animal" doesn't belong to the cheetah or Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt -- instead, it goes to a tinier creature. Much tinier. Like, the size of a sesame seed.
Samuel Rubins, a physics major at Pitzer College, recorded the speed of a paratarsotomus macropalpis and found that it can cover a distance of 322 times its body size in one second.
Let's put that into perspective. Usain bolt, the fastest man alive, is 6'5" and can run nearly 28 miles per hour. That's barely more than six body lengths per second. If Bolt could move with speed relative to that mite, he could sprint at more than 1,300 mph.
An animal like a cheetah may cross a longer distance in less time, but it's the physics behind the p. macropalpis that really interest researchers.
In Rubin says, "Looking deeper into the physics of how they accomplish these speeds could help inspire revolutionary new designs for things like robots or biomimetic devices."
The findings were presented at the Experimental Biology 2014 meeting in San Diego.