Usain Bolt is unbelievably fast. In 2008, he ran the 100 meter dash in a world record 9.58 seconds. For a cheetah, that’s a light jog. At the Cincinnati Zoo, they regularly set up a test to give their cheetah’s exercise and to see how fast they can run. The slowest cheetah distractedly jogged the 100 meters in 9.97 seconds (National Geographic). The fastest? A cheetah named Sarah ran the 100 meters at a blazing 5.95 seconds at 61 mph (ibid). Wild cheetahs are even faster, hitting speeds of 70 mph and chasing swift prey like the springbok antelope which can reach speeds over 60 mph (Wikipedia). A closer look at the cheetah reveals that it is perfectly designed for speed from head to tail.
1. Head. A cheetah’s head is the smallest of all big cats. It has a small snout and great eyesight to scope out their prey. Despite how fast they are moving and changing direction, their head remains incredibly still, which helps them to retain clear vision and focus.
2. Skeleton Structure. A cheetah’s skeleton structure acts like a bow which propels the cheetah at awesome speeds. A cheetah’s hips and clavicles are extremely flexible. It also has an unusually bendable spine. As a cheetah runs, it’s hind legs will come forward past their front legs. All of these features allow them to have extremely long strides and make pinpoint turns. In fact, every stride a cheetah’s makes at top speed is around 25 feet long (HowStuffWorks.com).
3. Respiratory System. In order to run as fast as they do, cheetahs need oxygen and a lot of it. Their nostrils, sinuses, and lungs are all enlarged for this very purpose. It’s respiratory rate will climb from 60 to 150 breathes per minute (Cheetah.org). All of these features work together just so their bodies have enough oxygen to move quickly.
3. Internal Organs. In a similar way, the cheetah’s heart and liver are enlarged. The heart is especially powerful to make sure enough blood gets to the muscles. Its arteries are very large and strong to withstand the pressure.
4. Feet. A cheetah’s claws do not retract, giving it constant traction. Similar to our shoes, it also has tough and ridged footpads for increased grip.
5. Tail. A cheetah’s tail is like the rudder. The tail stabilizes the cheetah’s body and helps it change direction. If a cheetah needs to change direction, it will swing its tail over to help make the turn. This is especially important since their prey rarely run straight.
When every single one of these attributes work together, it propels the cheetah at 70 mph. Probably most amazing of all is its acceleration . In three strides, the cheetah can reach 40 mph. It can accelerate from 0-60 in less than 3 seconds. This is faster than most supercars!
No other animal is like the cheetah. It is one of a kind. Every part of the cheetah shows brilliant design and order. Such an animal as this can only be the product of an intelligent God. As was said in Job 35:11, “Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds of the heavens?” Animals like the cheetah certainly teach us about the superiority of the Creator!