In 2009, Jamaican runner Usain Bolt set an astounding world record in the 100m dash: 9.58 seconds. That’s fast. Really, really fast. But even with a time like that, he’s hardly the fastest land mammal.
That distinction is now held by Sarah, an 11-year-old cheetah who lives at the Cincinnati Zoo. This summer, Sarah broke her own 100m record of 6.13 seconds with a blistering 5.95 seconds – the first sub-six time by any creature on two or four legs.
And now, thanks to National Geographic, you can watch her fly:
Sarah, an 11-year-old cheetah at the Cincinnati Zoo, set a new world speed record this summer during a shoot for National Geographic magazine. She first earned the title of world’s fastest land mammal in 2009 when she covered 100 meters in 6.13 seconds, breaking the previous mark of 6.19 seconds set by a male South African cheetah named Nyana in 2001. On June 20, 2012, Sarah shattered all 100-meter times when she posted 5.95 seconds.
By comparison, Sarah’s 100-meter run was nearly four seconds faster than the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt of Jamaica, whose fastest time for the same distance is 9.58 seconds. Sarah’s top speed was clocked at 61 mph.
Now, the Usain Bolt association may be a little unfair – he’s only working with two legs. But it is amazing to see just how fast an animal on the hunt can be. That Sarah the cheetah could shatter the fastest man in the world’s time by more than 3 seconds – it’s fascinating and truly terrifying at the same time.
For a comparison, here’s Bolt setting that record back in 2009:
Bolt will race in the 100m final this weekend. Can he defend his title? Maybe. But as far as setting a new world record, there’s only so low he can go. According to one Dutch mathematician, 9.36 seconds is about as low as a human being can go at the moment.