When I googled the “fastest animal” this is what I got.
A little mammal bias, maybe?
The truly fastest animal on Earth has a max speed 3 times greater than the cheetah.
Peregrine falcons can leisurely cruise through the skies between 40 and 60 miles per hour,
but when they’re diving toward their prey, they can reach speeds over 200 miles per hour.
That comes out to 293 feet per second.
It’s like flying the length of a football field in 1.2 seconds.
Or the length of this DC block.
So how is it even possible for peregrines to dive this fast?
A peregrine falcon is around the size of a crow—weighing between one and three pounds
with a wingspan up to 3.6 feet.
They prey on other birds by dive-bombing them and snatching them mid-air.
The first thing you see when a peregrine goes into its dive, also called a stoop, is their
Notice how the peregrine tucks in its feet, and sweeps back its tail and wings.
This streamlined figure reduces wind turbulence, maximizes maneuverability, lift, and speed
as it cuts through the air.
It wouldn’t be able to do this nearly as efficiently if had broad wings like a hawk
or an owl.
But the peregrine’s wings are pointed and angled back.
And because of its stiff unslotted feathers, it experiences less drag—the wind would
pull on loose feathers on other birds.
Peregrines also have a large keel — that’s this breast bone.
A bigger keel supports stronger chest muscles.
Acute vision allows them to spot prey a mile away.
The nictitating membrane, or third-eyelid, helps to maintain their vision in their high-speed dives，
and the secretory gland keeps their corneas from drying out because of all that
But none of this would be possible if the peregrine couldn’t breathe.
The air speeds that Peregrine falcons experience while diving would make it impossible for
most animals to breathe, but they have a bone in their nostrils to slow down the airflow.
They also have robust hearts that beat around 600 to 900 beats per minute.
All birds have a vastly more efficient respiratory system than mammals.
Then to finally catch her prey, the peregrine is pulling around 25 G’s coming out of a
stoop—compare that to a F-16 fighter pilot who endures up to 9 G’s during some maneuvers.
On speed alone peregrines are formidable birds of prey but it isn’t their only adaptation
Footage from our friends at BBC Earth shows where this wanderer has made its mark in some
After a sharp recovery from near extinction in North America—bustling cities with soaring
skyscrapers and towering cathedrals have become many peregrine’s new kingdom;
a plentiful hunting ground with high perches and deliciously plump pigeons.