With an unverified top-end speed of 70 mph or 114 kph in the wild, the cheetah holds the title as the fastest animal on land, even though it can be beaten on the curve only by the Thomson's Gazelle (right, photo above). From a standing start, the Cheetah is said to be able to reach 45 mph (20 meters/sec) in two seconds and can hold that 70 mph speed over the first 300m before it starts going out of breath.
Weighing in anywhere from 86 to 143 lbs., the big cat is stripped of all spare parts and blessed with bones as light as aluminum. This animal is, therefore, built for speed and uses its long, heavy tail for stability during a chase. Its claws do not retract; they grip the ground and help the animal push off in the same way that a track shoe with cleats helps a runner start a race.
In the human world, the 6'5"-near-200 lbs. Usain Bolt (with a maximum 30 mph over 220 yards) is the fastest person with world record clockings of 9.58 secs. and 19.19 secs. over the 100m and 200m, respectively. And while Bolt can also run an awesome 400m, the scientist would be better able to project at what point after the 200m the speed of a well-rested Bold would begin to diminish.
Like the cheetah, Bolt is lean and runs with long strides of rapid turnover that work to their advantage. Like the cheetah, Bolt has long limbs but goes with effortless fluidity around the curve. Since Beijing, the world has found Bolt’s speed as fascinating as the cheetah's. But while the cheetah quickly catches up with its prey and trips it to go for the jugular, Bolt storms by his rivals like the concord going down the runway for take-off, and then keeps going and going.
Although Bolt is said of be scared of wildlife, the fastest man recently confronted his fear when he came face to face with his match from the animal kingdom during his first African tour.