What do a cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) and a short-haired English greyhound, also called a greyhound, have in common ? Much more than you could believe at first sight. It is in fact the two fastest animals in the world: the first can reach the incredible speed of 120 km / h on very short stretches, while the second, if well trained, can reach 73 km / h.
Designed for sprints
Although very different, the two mammals have evolved a very similar style of running, called a rotary gallop . That is, the legs touch the ground according to the order front left, front right, rear left, rear right. This style of racing unites dogs, cats and some ungulates such as moose or deer, and is very different from that of horses, which have evolved to gallop over long distances and not on short sprints.
As can be seen in the slow motion video sequences and in the gallery below, cheetah and greyhound also share the same two-stroke gait: in the first phase the body stretches and the four legs are stretched parallel to the ground, the vertebral column is extended and the animal seems to fly. In the second phase, that of compression, the imprint of the hind legs overlaps that of the anterior ones under the belly of the mammal, the vertebral column is shortened like a spring and prepares itself to push the body forward again.
Greyhounds and cheetahs GO TO GALLERY (N photo)Historical friends
From the historical point of view, cheetahs and greyhounds have been well known since ancient times: the cheetah in fact, thanks to its manuset character compared to that of the other big cats, was used as a hunting weapon even by Egyptians and Persians. It was transported to areas rich in game on special camp beds, where it remained blindfolded until the ancestors of modern greyhounds had hunted down their prey. Then, as soon as his hood was removed, he was left free to pursue it and finish it.
The challenge. The only known challenge between cheetahs and greyhounds was held in London, at the Harringay Stadium, on 5 December 1937. Challenging the home champions were 12 cheetahs captured in Kenya and taken to England by explorer Kenneth Gandar-Dower. After a period of acclimatization and 6 months of preparation, the felines took to the field against the dogs and, obviously, they won without great effort. But the cheetahs did not prove particularly interested in the world of racing, to the point that after only one other exit they ended their sporting career.
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