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Paratarsotomus macropalpis: Study pegs mite as fastest land animal on Earth

Paratarsotomus macropalpis is the scientific name for a California mite that is smaller than a sesame seed, but has newly acquired the title of the fastest land animal on Earth. A cheetah tops out at speeds around 60 mph, which equals running 16 of its full body lengths per second. The Paratarsotomus macropalpis has the capacity to run 322 body lengths per second, according to NewsMax on April 29.

Paratarsotomus macropalpis: Fastest land animal in the world turns out to be a mite.
Wikimedia Commons

The discovery of this mite that travels faster than any land animal may help develop new designs for things like robots, claims a research student from Pitzer College. This student wrote about his findings on the Paratarsotomus macropalpis in the Journal of the Federation of American Experimental Biology.

According to Natural World News, the previous record-holder was the Australian tiger beetle, which can run at 171 body lengths per second. The mite has long legs and a long body, which is nearly twice as long as broad. The mite is not a hard thing to find, it is usually seen running along rocks or sidewalks in California.

Research student Samuel Rubin assisted Jonathan Wright, a biology professor at Pomona College, in the Paratarsotomus macropalpis study. The findings were presented on Sunday in San Diego to the Experimental Biology 2014 meeting.

While Wright and Rubin were studying the muscle biochemistry of animal legs they ran across the Paratarsotomus macropalpis. They recorded the mite and calculated the speed that it traveled by using a high-speed camera.

This mite is not only speedy, it sounds like its almost indestructible. They found that the mite can run on concrete heated to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also good at changing directions and can basically stop on a dime.

The duo is still trying to find if this mite has an upper limit to its relative speed or stride frequency. The data they've collected and compared with data from other animals suggests that if this mite does have a limit, they have not found it yet.