Research suggests a miniscule arachnid native to southern California is the fastest land animal in the world based on body size. The predatory mite can move faster than the Australian tiger beetle and can overthrow the cheetah as the fastest animal on land.
The predatory mite, which goes by the scientific name Paratarsotomus macropalpis, can be compared to the size of a sesame seed. The mite is endemic to southern California and was first discovered almost 100 years ago. The endemic arachnid was known to be a desert species which is rarely studied by men of science.
The research conducted on the mite used monitoring equipment to evaluate the insect's locomotive skills. High speed videos taken in field and in laboratories showed that the arachnid can run up to 322 body lengths per second. The recorded data was said to be the species' peak speed that bested the current fastest arachnid, the Australian beetle tiger, which can move 171 body lengths per second.
The research is presented in the Experimental Biology 2014 conference held in San Diego, California, on April 28 this year. The study is titled "Exceptional locomotory performance in Paratarsotomus macropalpis mites" which assessed the mite's locomotive capacity. The data gathered in the experiment was later compared to the existing data of other fast land animals in the world.
"Mites running in the field on concrete substrates at high temperatures (40°C to 60°C) were shown to travel at mean relative speed of 192.4 bl s-1 (body lengths per second), exceeding the highest currently documented speed for land animals (171 bl s-1)," researchers said in the abstract of the study.
A cheetah can run about 16 body lengths per second or about 96 kilometers per hour compared to the mite's 322 body lengths per second or 2,000 km per hour. Researchers suggest studying the arachnid can help engineers in developing faster robots.
More studies may soon be conducted on Paratarsotomus macropalpis, as the research generated interest not only with people and enthusiasts but also more importantly with scientists and other researchers.