Zoology

The Cheetah Anatomy Built for Speed



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"The Cheetah Anatomy Built for Speed"
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Even at first glance it is obvious that the cheetah's main weapon is speed. Lacking the weight and strength of other big cats, the cheetah relies exclusively on speed to catch it's prey.

Aside from these obvious differences, the cheetah has developed some anatomical variations that enable it to reach speeds of up to 60 mph. The cheetah's spine is very flexible and acts like a spring. It is able to bring it's back legs forward and place them between it's front legs. Pushing it's legs back from this position hurtles it forwards.

The physical exertion whilst running is enormous at these speeds and the cheetah has enlarged nasal passages which assist with breathing. It's body temperature increases to dangerous levels so the cats can only keep this speed up for short periods of time. If they do not rest then mental and physical damage is possible.

The rib cage of the cheetah is also smaller in comparison to other cats. It is not as long which allows for more movement of the rear legs. The tail is longer also and the end of it is slightly flat, which assists with balance and steering.

All other cats have retractable claws, but those of the cheetah do not retract fully. This helps them to grip whilst turning at high speeds.

Whilst these changes are an advantage where speed is concerned, the long, light build of the cheetah and the energy it uses can be a disadvantage. If it does manage to hold onto it's prey, the cheetah needs to rest. At this point other larger predators can sometimes steal their meal from under their nose. They can't fight back due to their lesser strength.

The cheetah's anatomy is definitely adapted for speed, but with advantages comes disadvantages.

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