Thursday, July 25, 2013

What can accelerate from 0- 60 mph in less than 3 seconds?

Cheetah's are my favorite wild animal, so this article about why they abandon their failed chases so quickly (relative to other Big Cats) caught my eye.  Apparently, for the last 35 years or so, researchers have believed that cheetah's heat-up rapidly during their incredible acceleration in the hunt and, as a consequence, are prone to over-heating.  However, recent advances in tracking technology and increased scrutiny have determined that view is incorrect.  Why? Because it's been well established that a cheetah's body temperature tends to rise higher and faster after a successful hunt than after a failed hunt. Ok then, so what's the reason? The leading candidate is stress due to the fear of nearby predators that threaten the cheetah's kill.  From a fascinating article at National Geographic (HT: RCS):
Previous studies have seen increases in the body temperatures of deer and impala when they are exhibiting fear. So a similar stress response in cheetahs could help explain why there's a greater increase in body temperature after successful hunts versus unsuccessful ones, Hetem said.
This is further supported by the fact that one of the study cheetahs got a thorn lodged in a paw one day and did not participate in a hunt at all—his sister made the kill. But the male did share in her spoils. "He shows the same body temperature pattern that she does," said Hetem. "The rise in temperature happened when he got to the prey item."