You will visualize cheetahs or greyhounds when you start thinking about the fastest creatures on planet earth. But scientists have discovered a species of ant that can run 108 times the length of its own body per second. The arthropod has a speed of 33.66 inches (855 millimetres) per second. This may not look much but you will be surprised to know that even the cheetah can manage to run 16 body lengths per second. The winner has been named the Saharan silver ant, after the desert in which it lives. Cataglyphis bombycina is the biological name of the ant and its speed is equivalent to a human running at 360 mph or 580.41 kmph. This is the fastest measured speed of an ant so far. This puts it at the third spot, only behind the Californian coastal mite (Paratarsotomus macropalpis) and the Australian tiger beetle (Cicindela eburneola)? The coastal mite can cover 322 body lengths per second whereas the tiger beetle can cover 170 body lengths per second.
These tiny ants are simply amazing in many other prospects. In the Sahara desert, where day temperature can reach 60 Degrees Celsius, most of the creatures venturing out in the middle day to avoid scorching temperature. But this little ant has evolved several adaptations to do it very easily. One of these is longer legs, which allow them to hang their bodies farther from the scorching sand. Also, their bodies have unique hairs with a triangular cross-section that reflects the Sun’s radiation and keep them cool.
These ants spend very little time out of their nest and this extremely fast speed helps them. Professor Harald Wolf, an arthropod expert at the University of Ulm, said that Saharan Silver ants are special even among desert ants. To find out the exact speed, Wolf and his colleagues decided to film them at high speed. The first locate a nest then an aluminum channel was attached to the entrance and a feeder was placed to lure them out the nest. A camera was then mounted to film ants from the top.