Quirks and Quarks

Mites are the fastest land animal

A species of mite can run 300 body lengths per second - far faster than any mammal

Proportional to body size, the tiny insects are ten times faster than cheetahs

Paratarsotomus macropalpis, in the starting blocks (Wright lab)
Proportional to body size, a tiny and little-studied mite from California turns out to be the fastest running animal on the planet. Juveniles of the 1mm-long predator can run more than 300 times their body length in one second, the equivalent of a human running faster than the speed of sound.

Dr. Jonathan Wright, a biologist from Pomona College in Claremont, California, and his students, used high-speed video to study the mite's speed, and found that to accomplish it, the mite takes more than a hundred strides a second.

The mites are not just fast, they're also maneuvrable, as the mite uses a hook on its third leg to anchor to the ground and make nearly instantaneous turns.

Related Links

- Journal of Experimental Biology Paper
- JEB story