BUILT FOR SPEED: CHEETAH ANATOMY
- small aerodynamic head
- flexible spine for long strides
- light body weight for maximum speed
- long flat tail for high speed cornering
- long legs for long strides
- rigid paws with claws always out for increased traction
Image permission from Rebecca Klein-CCB and key adaptation with permission from Ant-PredatorCnservation.com
The full grown cheetah weighs in between 35 and 72 kg and its body length ranges from 110 to 150 cm. The tail adds on 60 to 84 extra cm to the cheetah length. They are also around 75 cm tall and are realatively small for a felid (wikipedia). They need to be small with a slender streamlined body in order to reach maximum speed. The cheetah has multiple adaptations that allows it to sprint optimally.
Cheetah Fur Camouflage: Image permission from Rebecca Klein-CCB
Tear Mark: Image permission by Elva Adams-CheetahSpot.com
- Retractible Claws: This adaptation allows for the cheetah to contain sharp and hooked claws that are needed to take down the prey at the end of a chase. If the claws were sticking out though, they would scrape against the ground and slows the cheetah down. The adaptation allows for the cheetah to pull the claws in while sprinting and let them out right when they need to take down the animal (Russell and Bryant, 2001).
- Large nostrils and lungs: this allows the cheetah to have quick air intake while sprinting
- Large liver, heart, adrenal galnds: this helps with a rapid physical response in the body to create energy
- Small head and canines: to be more aerodynamic and makes allows for small wind resistence
- Long tail: acts as a rudder to allow for quick turning at high speeds
- Elongated retinal fovea: allows the cheetah to contain a wide view of its surroundings to better survey the open savannas for prey
- Tear Mark: dark fur beneath the eyes acts by minimizing the sun’s glare to give better vison
- Fur spots: give the cheetah camouflage in the tall tan colored grass
- Small and light weight bones: to give the cheetah less weight to carry.
- Small collarbones: help lengthen the stride for fast acceleration
- Rigid pads: for better traction and for stopping
- Agile forelimbs: have manipulatory capabilities to grasp the prey while still sprinting
- (Hudson et al., 2008)
- Flexible Spine: acts as a spring to give the cheetah extra length for each stride (Hildebrand, 1961)
- Hindlimb bones: are longer and heavier so the cheetah can take long strides so it can then increase its speed. They also enable the cheetah to have a long contact time on the ground to push off with stronger force as the rest of the body moves forward. The amount of muscle in the hip joint is also important to speed because the smaller the muscle, the smaller the swing inertia of the hindlimbs. The cheetah happens to have a very small amount of muscle there, so it can swing its hindlimbs at a fast rate(Hudson et al., 2011).
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