An ostrich is the fastest flightless bird on land, running at 70km/h. If you are curious about the speed of an ostrich, then you might want to know why it adapts to that speed. So, how fast can an ostrich run?
This article explains the dynamics of why an ostrich can run at such high speeds. Stick around to learn more!
How Fast Can An Ostrich Run?
An ostrich is the largest and heaviest bird on earth, with a weight of 150kgs and a height of 2.8m. Due to their heavy weight, they cannot fly and thus rely on their strong legs to cover distances.
Their wings also play important roles in helping them run fast. You are probably wondering how a heavy animal like an ostrich can be considered the fastest, and we are here to explain it!
Ostriches have long, powerful legs that enable them to sprint at a speed of 40-45mph, which means they can cover a distance of 42km in less than 40 minutes. In addition, the bird’s long legs enable it to cover 5m in one stride, making them the fastest two-legged animals on earth.
An ostrich has great stamina while running and can maintain speeds of 30mph to 38mph for 30 minutes or longer. It beats the human marathon record holder by covering the marathon distance in less than 30 minutes. These birds can see far through their large eyes that can project up to 2 miles. The feature makes them sight predators like lions and hyenas before they catch up with them.
Is An Ostrich The Fastest Running Animal?
If you ask about an ostrich’s speed in the bird category, the answer will be a straight yes! But generally, an ostrich is not the fastest animal on land—Ostrich exists in two species: the Somali ostrich and the common ostrich. The common ostrich is much heavier and larger compared to the Somali ostriches.
Although both species are known to cover 5 meters in a single stride or 60mph over short distances, they are not the fastest animals but the fastest running birds in the world. In addition, they are the fastest animals that run on land using two legs.
What Enables An Ostrich To Run At High Speeds
An ostrich has different adaptive features that enable it to run at high speeds and maintain stamina. These features include;
- Wide Wings.
- Powerful elastic legs.
- Well-built upper leg muscles.
- Ability to stabilize the center of gravity.
1. The Powerful Ostrich Legs
“Powerful legs” refers to how an ostrich uses its legs differently to run faster. Ostriches have light legs that bounce using both feet to touch the ground simultaneously. Their legs are long and slender to achieve maximum balance and acceleration. Since their legs are long, they can have bigger strides when running.
In addition, they have leg muscles closer to their bodies that enable them to swing their legs faster than other animals. These leg muscles also give them the power to stretch and achieve long strides while their legs give it the distance.
Ostriches have 2m wide wings that keep them balanced when running at high speeds. In addition, the wings prevent them from falling or injuring themselves when running.
3. Stability in the center of gravity
Ostriches have an appearance that does not suit them for running. They are enormous birds with large bellies that can hinder hitting high speeds. But that is not the case as the ostrich keeps its organs safe and secure without hindering its legs from taking off. Like any other bird, an ostrich has a well-positioned center of gravity that provides it with ease while it maneuvers.
Ostriches have a perfect proportion as they have a center of gravity between their long legs and wings. They use their leg energy to keep them steady such that they do not lose control while running.
Ostriches do not run in a straight line; they move swiftly with less effort. You get tired quickly when you run in a straight line since your muscles strain to keep you in a straight line. Ostriches focus their muscle power on moving forward as their center of gravity keeps them balanced. That is why an ostrich can run fast in a long distance.
Why Does An Ostrich Run Fast?
After finding out how fast an ostrich can run, you probably wonder why these birds run fast.
1. To Escape Predators
Ostriches are adapted to running fast to get away from predators. An ostrich is a prey to another animal above the food chain in an ecosystem. A lion can run at 70km/h, and if it preys on an ostrich, it means that the ostrich should be faster than that. So we can say that an ostrich adapts a swift motion to escape such predators.
2. To Seek New Grazing Pastures
An ostrich can live in arid environments, so migrating to new pastures is not a new thing to them. However, they can run fast in search of better pastures once they have exhausted their current pastures.
Seeing an ostrich stride long distances is satisfying, especially if you are touring the African savannah. Unfortunately, the speed of the tour travel cars cannot keep up with the speed of this incredibly fast bird.
Have Ostriches’ Always Been Flightless?
According to scientific research, ostriches have been dated to exist millions of years ago, alongside dinosaurs. During those years, dinosaurs ruled the earth leaving minimal space for ostriches to run; thus, they were much lighter and could fly.
Later on, dinosaurs were wiped out of existence by the ecosystem, thus giving the ostrich room to run; that is why they adopted their running abilities.
The ostrich has a genetic resemblance to the kiwi bird of New Zealand since they share a common ancestor. However, these birds evolved differently and have lost their flying capabilities based on their reasons.
After the extinction of dinosaurs, ostriches are said to have wandered around eating all the vegetation left by dinosaurs; that is why they gained so much weight and grew tall.