Sunday, 22 February 2015

Creature 145: Paratarsotomus macropalpis

The fastest land animal in the world (ish)
Paratarsotomus macropalpis is a mite, and not really a particularly interesting looking mite at that.

This little guy does not even reach 0.1 mm in length, which is not all that unusual for a mite. Mites are not the fist animal you think of in a discussion on speech, but these little guys are the fastest land animal on earth. O.K. I should probably qualify that statement.  It is the fastest land animal if you use body lengths per second as a measure of speed, in other words it is the fastest land animal relative to its size. If you're a physicist,  you are probably complaining that this is cheating and you cant have a unit of measurement which changes depending on what you are measuring.  I say that the physicists are being boring. So how fast is it? They have been measured reaching speeds of 322 body lengths per second taking up to 135 strides per second. This only equates to 0.225 meters per second, but a human travelling are 322 body lengths per second would have to be going around 2000 kilometers per hour.

This little mite doesn't mind the heat comfortably running on surfaces of up to 60 degrees Celsius. It is believed that it moves so quickly in order to hunt its prey, however we are not entirely sure what they eat as they are understandably difficult to observe in nature.

Paratarsotomus macropalpis are native to Southern California.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Order: Trombidiformes
Family: Anystidae
Genus: Paratarsotomus
Species: Paratarsotomus macropalpis

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