Paratarsotomus macropalpis is getting loads of attention around the web today because the California mite has been dubbed the "fastest land animal" on the planet. According to NewsMax,the mite is smaller than a sesame seed, but the little bugger is quick; It can run up to 322 body lengths per second! If a human were to run that fast, it would be running approximately 1,300 miles-per-hour.
Samuel Rubin, a student researcher at Pitzer College, explained:
"It's so cool to discover something that's faster than anything else, and just to imagine, as a human, going that fast compared to your body length is really amazing. But beyond that, looking deeper into the physics of how they accomplish these speeds could help inspire revolutionary new designs for things like robots or biomimetic (sic) devices."The paratarsotomus macropalpis was videotaped using a high-speed camera and its speed was calculated from the footage. Not only is the creature fast but it is also agile, able to change direction and come to a complete stop with ease. According to Sci-News.com, the mite beat out the former speed champion, the Australian tiger beetle, which can run 171 body lengths per second. The record-shattering creature is 0.7 mm long, which is actually large for a mite. Its long legs likely help it cover more ground than the average insect (though a mite is technically not an insect).
Jonathan Wright, a professor of biology at Pomona College, says:
"We were looking at the overarching question of whether there is an upper limit to the relative speed or stride frequency that can be achieved. When the values for mites are compared with data from other animals, they indicate that, if there is an upper limit, we haven't found it yet."Paratarsotomus macropalpis easily beat out the speed of a cheetah, which many people think of as being very fast. As previously reported by TheInquisitr, the Cheetah actually doesn't run nearly as fast as you might think. Researchers say that the top speed of a cheetah is about 65 mph. Compare that to the incredible speed of this mite, and there is nothing but dust left behind. A lot of bugs and other animals with "creepy, crawly" traits tend to be quick, but something like the paratarsotomus macropalpis is so fast that it could go undetected.
The animal does fine on surfaces that reach up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit... which exceeds the maximum temperature that most animals can withstand.
[Photo Credit: Grace C. Wu et al. 2010. The Journal of Experimental Biology; doi: 10.1242/jeb.024463 via Sci-News.com ]