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Fastest Animal on Planet is Not A Cheetah: this species could even swim 3,000 kilometers per hour

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This species could also swim at approximately 3,000 kilometres per hour, according to the authors.

If you ask anyone what the fastest animal on Earth is, they’ll most likely say the cheetah.

The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is an undisputed speed demon. It is true that it is the fastest land animal. With peak speeds of 64 mph (103 km/h), the cheetah easily outpaces other fast animals such as racehorses to claim the title of the world’s fastest land mammal. According to the Smithsonian National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute, some estimates of their top speed are closer to 70 mph (113 km/h).

Now, a team of scientists from the University of Exeter has discovered new info about the tiny propellers used by archaea, single-celled organisms.

While archaea, like bacteria, are present in a wide variety of settings — including inside human bodies – they do not cause disease.

Some archaea propel themselves at tremendous speeds by revolving an archaellum, a spiral-shaped thread.

The new study looked at this in greater detail than ever before, thanks to a sophisticated cryo-electron microscope.

The study focused on Methanocaldococcus villosus, a species found near undersea volcanoes off the coast of Iceland, where water temperatures can exceed 80°C.

M. villosus swims at a speed of about 500 body lengths per second,” says Dr Lavinia Gambelli, of Exeter’s Living Systems Institute (LSI).

“Considering that the tiny cell is only about one micrometre in size, this means half a millimetre in one second.

“At first glance, this does not seem much.

“But in comparison, a cheetah achieves only 20 body lengths per second – so if an M. villosus cell had the size of a cheetah, it would swim at approximately 3,000 kilometres per hour.

“The incredible speed that M. villosus can achieve makes it one of the fastest organisms on the planet.”

“Archaea make up a considerable percentage of the microorganisms found in the human body. None has so far been found to cause disease, but it remains a possibility,” adds Dr Bertram Daum.

The researchers observed that M. villosus filaments are made up of thousands of copies of two alternating proteins, whereas previously studied filaments only had one protein.

This shows that an archaellum’s architecture and assembly are more complicated than previously imagined.

Source: 10.1038/s41467-022-28337-1

Image Credit: Getty

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