Outperforming Humans – Speed

By Anupum Pant

Humans can use tools, communicate, count, make others laugh, socialize and are self aware too. We also have emotions and a pretty good memory. All of the things put into a single creature sure makes the “most advanced” creature we’ve ever known. But if these traits are considered individually, you’ll easily find an animal who beats us at one trait at a time. Today, I wanted to read and write about where humans stand when it comes to speed.

Talk about running speeds and the fastest person ever, Usain Bolt comes to my mind. A bolt indeed. As on date, if I’m not wrong, the world record set by him in the 100m race is 9.58 seconds. To put this human freak show into perspective, the average speed of the Jamaican sprinter in this race comes to about 37 km per hour (23 miles per hour).  And he’s clocked 28 mph somewhere in the race, they say.

In a world full of cars and planes, where distances travelled have become really huge, 28 mph sounds like a speed which does no good in our practical lives. And yet, it takes an Olympic runner to clock that speed. Normally, people run at about, say 10 mph. Damn!
The biological human limit to running speeds is estimated to be about 40 mph.

Quick fact: The fastest human objects ever are Helios 2 (a German probe) clocks about 150,000 mph. Another spacecraft, Juno does about 25 miles in a single second!

Now compare that with a Peregrine Falcon which can make use of the gravity and its perfectly aerodynamic body to travel at a speed of 216 mph (360 kph). But, that’s hardly any work for the animal. It’d the gravity making it fall.

In level flight, the white throated needletail (swift) can fly at speeds more than 100 miles per hour (up to 106). That’s the fastest bird if you do not count gravity assist.

An on land, of course the Cheetah takes the prize with about 70 mph of running speed. But, there’s a catch. If you measure speeds of animals relative to their body sizes, there’s a little blood sucking mite that beats cheetah by a huge margin.

The fastest swimming fish is the sailfish, which can swim and jump for small distances at about 70 mph.

Humans can swim at about 5 miles per hour.

Moving at 35 miles per hour a jack rabbit can travel faster than a human. The patas monkey, the fastest primate, runs at about 35 miles per hour too!

Now these are some animals you probably already know. Soon there’s more to come. In the coming days I wish to do a series on outperforming humans…Maybe I’ll write about endurance next.

Keep reading for more.

Do You Feel Alone? – By Kurzgesagt

By Anupum Pant

If you feel worthless or alone, or both, you probably are looking at things very superficially. It’s time to realize who you are and where you stand in this vast universe.

Today, I’m just going to leave you with a brilliantly animated, science + philosophical video by Kurzgesagt.

(Just that because I’m too tired to write and happened to stumble upon this amazing video which I felt like sharing)

Also, don’t forget to check out their other videos. All of them are brilliant. Yes, I’ve watched them all. [Channel link]

The Sweet Tale of the Mysterious Tree Lobster

By Anupum Pant

I do realize how big our world is and the sheer number of species that live in it. Also the fact that about 86% of the species are still unknown has me in awe all the time.

Yet, after having read about so many kinds of animals that live on our planet, after having documented them on this blog, I always feel that I’ve known and written it all. The very moment I start losing hope that I would never find an interesting animal ever again, something incredible comes across. Always!

Today, that happened again when I was reading an NPR blog. This time, there’s more than the species itself. The place where it lives is pretty awesome too. The most amazing part – This six-legged giant lives only there. That means, nowhere else on Earth will you find it! First, let’s see where it lives…

This is where it lives:

balls pyramid

I know, it looks like a CG mountain done for a fantasy movie. Trust me, it’s real. It’s called the Ball’s Pyramid (named after a European named Ball who first saw it in 1788) and was formed 7 million years ago due to a volcanic eruption. It is an awkwardly tall (1,844 feet) and an extremely narrow rock sitting in the centre of the sea. To the East of Australia, the red place marker in the following picture shows where the rock is located.

 balls pyramid location

 What lives there? And how was it found?

There is an island – Lord Howe island – close to the rock. In the island lived huge “tree lobsters” (actually they were huge stick insects with a hard exoskeleton – Dryococelus australis). In the year 1918, a ship crashed on the island and brought with it some rats. The rats loved these tree lobsters and finished them off within 2 years. After 1920, these tree lobsters were thought to be extinct.

tree lobster

Of course there were stories of these insects living on a rock near the island. But no human wanted to climb the narrow rock to hunt insects at night.

Only in the year 2001 when 2 researchers David Priddel and Nicholas Carlile decided to climb up the rock to find out if these stories were real, they found something incredible. Poop of a large insect. When the came back at night to investigate, the shiny black huge tree lobsters were found! These insects had probably never been extinct.

For more than 80 years, 24 of them had been living on this rock, in a bush and no one knew how they got there. Probably they clinged on to birds or something. Also, according to the researchers, these creatures have never been seen anywhere else.

Where are they now

I’m not sure about where they are now. According to the 2012 NPR article which I read, a pair of these creatures – Adam and Eve – were brought into Australia. Eggs got laid and little Tree lobsters came into the world. Thankfully, the species was saved from going extinct. But it isn’t known if they’ll be sent back to their home island because the great-great-great grandsons of those rats must still be there waiting to finish these insects off again.

This is how the first ones hatched in the zoo…

Hit like if you learnt something from this article.