With lean physiques, powerful muscles and aerodynamic body shapes, specific animals just look like natural-born sprinters. But sometimes first appearances deserve to belie a creature"s true capabilities.

You are watching: How fast can an ant run

Such is the instance with the Saharan silver ant of north Africa. It has recently been tape-recorded running in ~ 855 mm every second, as reported in the Journal of experimental Biology

While in actual terms, this might not sound like such a an excellent distance – ~ all, the average man’s walking stride is 762 mm (30 in) – the meaning becomes evident when size distinction is taken into account. To carry out that, scientists often base relative speed on human body lengths every second. This fleet-footed desert-dweller have the right to run at a staggering 108 times its very own body size per second. 

By comparison, the fastest soil mammal over short distances, the cheetah, achieves a "meagre" 16 body lengths per second when reaching its optimal speed of approximately 100 km/h (60 mph). 

And, as tough as it it is to conceive, it provides the world"s fastest man, Usain Bolt (JAM), look positively sluggish; during this athlete’s unprecedented 100-m dash the 9.58 secs in 2009, the "only" accomplished 5.35 time his total height every second.

Other heat-coping features include fine, triangular-shaped silver- hairs across their bodies that assist to deflect the extreme sun and also long legs to raise your bodies turn off the ground. Internally, special proteins increase their tolerance to a hot climate. In fact, in addition to several that its cousins, this varieties of ant is among the most thermotolerant animals on the planet, maybe to stand up to upper an essential bodily temperatures as much as 53°C (127°F) for quick periods. 

Ant ecologist Dr Kirsti Abbott that the school of Ants Australia, that consults because that Guinness human being Records on myrmecological matters, said: "That this ant types has evolved to make use of the midday warmth in the Saharan Desert is testimony come the capacity of ants to fill all eco-friendly niches, both spatial and temporal. 

"It’s the specifics of this strategy that room so interesting. Shorter legs, however faster strides, and also a tripod gait that is virtually tantamount come levitation! The rate on the ground an unified with the silver hairs top top its exoskeleton are simply two superb adaptations that make castle perfect desert dwellers.

"I think the next hare and the tortoise story need to be the Cataglyphis bombycina and also the hare!"

As fast as silver- Saharan ants are, these ants actually come third overall in the roster of animal runners. One tiger beetle (the fastest insects on land overall) indigenous Australia can acquire 170 body lengths per second, if a small mite from southerly California, USA, can scarper in ~ a mind-boggling 322 body lengths every second. 

Blink-and-you’ll-miss-them bugs… 

Silver Saharan ants aren’t the only creepy-crawlies that have out-sped the competition and claim a record… 

Fastest flying insect: In the air, the yellow medal goes to another an insect that hails from down Under: the Australian dragonfly. It has actually been measured getting to speeds the 58 km/h (36 mph) in quick bursts, i m sorry is quicker than the mean galloping horse. 

Fastest pet appendage: speed isn’t all about locomotion… much faster still in nature room the movements of certain body parts.

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The many extreme instance is held by another types of ant indigenous to the rainforests of south-east Asia and Australia. The ominously named Dracula ant can snap together its jaws in ~ 90 m/s (324 km/h; 201 mph) – that’s about 5,000 times faster than the blink of one eye! 

From the faster bird to the faster invertebrate (ever heard the a sun spider?), there space lots an ext speedy animals to "catch up" on in Guinness world Records 2020 out currently in shops and also online. Hurry and also get her copy today!


Thumbnail and header image: Matthias Wittlinger, Ulm University and University the Freiburg; Shutterstock