A new study shows that a sprinting cheetah uses the same mechanics as a rear-wheel-drive car, all its power comes from the back. The cheetah's hind limbs have muscles and fibers suited to power running, whereas those on its fore limbs are better for steering and balance. Car manufacturers have got it right thus far, but they're still struggling to keep up with the cheetah on acceleration. A cheetah can go from 0 - 60 mph in under three seconds, an acceleration Porsche owners can only dream about (they're currently at 4.1 seconds to reach 60 mph).
Speed is what has made the cheetah famous, but out of all the big cats in Africa, it's one of the least successful hunters. With its slim body, lack of endurance, and solitary nature, cheetah's are very vulnerable.
Ten Cheetah Facts
- There are only 10,000 cheetahs left in the wild (most of them in Africa)
- Cheetahs can reach a sprinting speed of 114kph (71mph)
- Cheetahs usually live for about 12 years
- A female cheetah raises her cubs alone
- When a cheetah runs, only one foot at a time touches the ground
- As few as 10% of cheetah cubs make it to adulthood
- Cheetahs hunt mainly during the day
- Cheetahs are not good climbers
- Cheetahs don't have fully retractable claws, this helps maintain traction at all times
- Cheetahs are born with their spots, but they are difficult to see under a mantle of bushy back hair
Cheetah Cub, Masai Mara, Kenya -- © Getty Images