Can You Identify These Speedy Animals From a Photo?

Ian Fortey

Image: KeithSzafranski/ E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

The fastest humans are capable of speeds just under 30 miles per hour. We're pretty good at endurance overall, but when compared to wild animals, our speed is a bit lacking.  In fact, there are an exceptional number of animals that are much faster than humans. Some of these swift critters take advantage of things like gravity to help them swoop at great speeds, while others are remarkably fast when you take the whole size of the animal into consideration. It's a fast-paced world out there, so it's a good thing we invented bikes, cars, and planes to keep up.

If you know anything about speedy animals, you probably know most only attain high speeds in short bursts, kind of like humans. Others can sustain a pretty incredible speed over great distances and others will just use that speed for a push to catch prey or evade a predator. You probably know some of the most common fast animals out in the world, but do you know all of them? Most of them? A lot of them? How many do you think you can identify just from a photograph? Lucky for you, we put together a little list here to test your knowledge. Put on those running shoes and try to keep pace. See how many speedy animals you can identify in our quiz!

What do you call this tiny bird that grows to only about 4 inches in length but can hit speeds of 50 miles per hour?

Anna's Hummingbird has been clocked at incredible speeds that, relative to its size, are pretty staggering. This bird can travel around 385 body lengths per second. A fighter jet only flies at 39 per second.

This big bird can top out at around 43 miles per hour. What is its name?

it shouldn't be surprising that ostriches run so fast, given what their legs look like. Not only can they reach 43 miles per hour or more, but they can also sustain a pace faster than a human for around 10 miles, meaning they have the endurance to back up that speed.

These African animals can manage speeds of over 40 miles per hour. What are they?

Thomson's Gazelle is a type of antelope found in Africa. They need to be fast to escape all the dangerous predators where they live and when they run it kind of looks like they're bouncing, thanks to the unique way their legs work.

In a dive, this bird is the fastest animal in the world. What name does it go by?

Though it's not the fastest at level flying, in a dive the peregrine falcon can reach speeds of over 220 miles per hour. The pointed wings of the falcon allow it to achieve a streamlined shape, almost like a living torpedo, when it dives.

Do you know this intimidating fish that can allegedly hit speeds of 80 miles per hour?

The Black Marlin lives off the cost of Australia and parts of the Indo-Pacific. Though the figures for its swimming speed are widespread, the BBC has published articles claiming that the data is not accurate and these fish may only hit speeds of 18 miles per hour at a maximum.

This racing dog has managed to reach speeds around 45 miles per hour. What do people call it?

Greyhounds can reach speeds of 45 miles per hour and have long been specifically bred for their ability to race. When they're racing, a greyhound's heart can actually beat nearly 360 times per minute, or almost 6 times a second.

Name this recognizable African animal that can hit 40 miles per hour in order to avoid predators.

Zebras rely on camouflage to help them hide from predators in the wild, but when that doesn't work, running at 40 miles an hour can lend a hand too. Every zebra has a unique stripe pattern, kind of like a fingerprint.

What is this small prey animal can leap over 15 feet in a single bound?

The black-tailed jackrabbit can hit speeds of over 35 miles per hour. Maybe more significant than the speed is what it can do at those speeds, leaping over 15 feet in one jump as it runs away in a zig-zag pattern, making it incredibly hard to catch.

This is considered the fastest species of snake in the world. Do you know what it is?

The speedy black mamba can slither at speeds of up to 12 miles per hour. Not fast compared to a cheetah, but given that you're likely to only stumble on a mamba by accident and be pretty close to it when you do, that's more than fast enough to strike.

These marine birds can reach speeds over 90 miles per hour. What are they?

Frigatebirds can reach speeds around 95 miles per hour. Even more amazing is that studies have shown a frigatebird can stay in flight for an incredible amount of time. One juvenile bird was observed in flight for over 2 straight months, never once landing.

This member of the antelope family can run at around 60 miles per hour. What's it called?

Springboks are gazelles in south-western Africa. They're capable of incredible speed bursts of around 62 miles per hour, and they can also jump about 13 feet into the air, just in case the speed wasn't enough to convince a predator to look for easier prey.

Incredibly, this fish has been measured at speeds of around 47 miles per hour. Does it look familiar to you?

Yellowfin tuna have been measured at speeds of 47 miles per hour using a rod and reel. That's a pretty impressive speed for a fish that can weigh upwards of 400 pounds and reach around 6 feet in length, give or take.

This little fellow can hit speeds of 26 miles per hour when it's on foot, do you know what it is?

Roadrunners are fast-running birds that also have the ability to fly. Their top speed is around 26 miles per hour, which may not be the fastest thing on the road, but given the size of the bird, it's still pretty impressive.

Down under, they've seen this bouncy creature reach speeds of at least 35 miles per hour. Do you know what it's called?

The red kangaroo can reach and sustain speeds of about 35 miles per hour. When a kangaroo is born, it's actually about the size of a cherry, and will stay in its mother's pouch for two whole months before coming out again.

This fierce jungle cat can reach speeds of 40 miles per hour in short bursts. What is it?

Tigers don't seem like they're built for speed since they're so huge and can weigh up to 500 pounds, but they can pull off speeds that can outrun humans when they need to. Imagine a 500-pound human running faster than any other human you've ever heard of.

What is the name of this incredibly common yet fast bird that you can find just about anywhere?

Who knew the common pigeon was a speed demon? They can reach speeds of over 90 miles per hour and they're also good at distance flights. A pigeon once flew from Africa to England over 55 days and 7,000 miles.

This flying mammal can hit triple-digit speed. What is its name, though?

The Brazilian Free-Tailed bat can reach speeds of about 100 miles per hour, which is pretty intense. That's also a horizontal flight speed, not a dive, which is how most birds get their impressive numbers.

What's the name of this relative of the donkey that can run at around 43 miles per hour?

The onager is a type of wild donkey found in Asia. Their top speed is around 43 miles per hour while your average, everyday donkey usually tops out at about 30 miles per hour or so. Ironically, donkeys still have a reputation for being stubborn and lazy.

This large predatory bird is said to hit speeds of 200 miles per hour in a dive. What is it?

Golden Eagles tend to nest on cliffs which means they usually have a good spot from which to dive at prey and hit those amazing speeds. They also use those dives to impress potential mates, engaging in a behavior called "sky dancing" where they repeatedly swoop and dive to show off.

What is this remarkable fish that can get to speeds of 68 miles per hour?

A sailfish is popular with trophy anglers who want that big, remarkable fish on a wall but they definitely have to work to catch one. They can swim at speeds faster than most cars are driving down the high way and they can weigh over 200 pounds.

What is North America's fastest land mammal?

Pronghorn live in the prairies of Canada and the United States. They can reach speeds of nearly 60 miles per hour, which is useful for evading their main predator the coyote. Unlike some animals, they're not very good jumpers, so when they encounter fences, they'll actually try to squeeze under them.

This tentacley fellow has been seen swimming at speeds around 24 miles per hour. What name does it go by?

A pencil squid can be found off the coast of places like Singapore and, as the name implies, tend to be pretty tiny overall. Some are only a few inches in length which makes it all the more impressive when they hit speeds of 24 miles an hour, when human swim speed is less than 4 miles per hour.

It's no pet dog, that's for sure. What is this animal that can get to around 40 miles per hour in a sprint?

Coyotes can hit speeds of 40 miles per hour and leap up to 14 feet. It's kind of ironic that Wile E. Coyote was always missing out on the Roadrunner since, in real life, a coyote is nearly twice as fast.

They may not look speedy, but these reptiles can go 25 miles per hour. What kind of reptile is it?

The bearded dragon can hit speeds of 25 miles per hour. They're also pretty good at climbing, giving them a couple of useful ways to help them evade predators out in the wild. Their so-called beard actually changes color when they get stressed out or confront a rival.

Flying at around 80 miles per hour, this bird is incredibly fast. Do you recognize it?

The Red-Breasted Merganser's flight speed was recorded by airplane back in the 1960s. The observation was that the bird kept pace with the plane for quite a distance at 80 miles per hour. They also noted they were flying into a 20 mile an hour wind at the time.

A speed of 5.6 miles per hour doesn't sound fast, but when you're as small as this guy it's impressive. What is this bug known as?

The Tiger Beetle was measured at speeds of 5.6 miles per hour by scientists in the Netherlands. These little guys move so fast they actually have to stop running on a regular basis because the speed makes them go temporarily blind.

Just by flapping its wings, this bird can allegedly get over 100 miles per hour. What is this speedy thing called?

The speed of the white-throated needletail is a bit of a debatable subject right now since it hasn't been adequately verified to any scientific standard. That said, there's no doubt it's incredibly fast, so it certainly gets on the list, no matter the ultimate speed.

At 50 miles per hour, this animal is definitely outrunning most predators. Pick its name from the list.

The blackbuck can hit speeds of 50 miles per hour. They were once the most abundant of all the hoofed animals found throughout India and Pakistan, but hunting and habitat loss have greatly reduced those numbers.

When you picture fast animals, this is almost always at the top of any list. Tell us what it is.

The cheetah is almost the spokesanimal for speed in nature. A cheetah can hit a top speed of around 70 miles per hour in short bursts and not only that, they can go from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in just over 3 seconds!

Unless you can run 44 miles per hour, you won't be able to outrun these animals. What are they?

You might mistake an African Wild Dog for a hyena, but they're not quite the same thing. These dogs are also highly endangered with only around 6,600 of them left in the wild. They tend to live in packs and some packs can get up to 40 members in size.

It's the largest species of antelope but can you name it?

The Blue Wildebeest, sometimes called a gnu, certainly doesn't look like it's very speedy, but they can reach speeds of 50 miles per hour. During their migration, a group of wildebeests numbering over 1 million will travel together in search of food.

This speedy little bird can almost hit 100 miles per hour. What's this fast little fella called?

The Eurasian Hobby can dive at speeds of around 99 miles per hour. Despite its name, they sometimes show up in North America in places like Alaska or Washington state. Of course, they've also been spotted in Massachusetts so the name is more of a suggestion than anything else.

A lot of boats can't even move through the water as fast as this mammal. What is it?

The common Bottlenose dolphin is able to swim at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. If you've ever seen any Youtube videos of people dolphin watching, you've likely noticed just how easily dolphins keep pace with boats, even when they're traveling at great speed.

Speed is such a part of this animal's makeup, they're used for racing all over the world. What are they?

Horse racing has an incredibly long history in human history. The fastest horse on record is currently in the Guinness Book of World Records with a speed of 43.97 miles per hour. It was achieved by a thoroughbred horse named Winning Brew.

At 90 miles per hour during normal flight, this bird can obviously get where it's going in a hurry. Do you know what it is?

Gyrfalcons hunt cooperatively, working together to flush out prey. Back in the day, owning a gyrfalcon was a real status symbol and was the sort of thing royalty owned to show off. They're also the largest member of the falcon family.

It may not move at this speed but this little creature can level a punch at 50 miles per hour. Does it look familiar?

The mantis shrimp doesn't swim fast on its own, but that's not where its speed lies. it can clamp its claw down to strike at prey with blinding speed, 50 miles per hour. Its little claw clamps down so fast that it lowers the pressure of the water in front of it causing it to boil.

Even though cheetahs are faster, these cats can run incredibly fast as well. What are they?

Most people know them as the kings of the jungle, but lions are obviously kings of the race track too. Managing speed of 50 miles per hour, but only in short bursts, a lion is extremely adept at being able to chase down most of its prey.

This African animal can hit top speeds of 37 miles per hour. Do you recognize it?

The spotted hyena is also known by the less scientific name "laughing hyena." They got that name thanks to their remarkably unusual call that sounds like some really bizarre human laughter. They make the sound for a number of reasons, but probably not as laughter.

At around 21 miles per hour, this is one of the fastest lizards in the world. What name does it go by?

The black spiny-tailed iguana is native to Mexico and Central America. They're very aggressive for reptiles and tend to bite when they feel like something is threatening them, rather than simply running away.

This little animal can hit a speed burst of 40 miles per hour, can you name it?

Unlike a lot of mammals that live in cold climates, the Arctic Hare doesn't hibernate. When their speed can't help them they rely on other sneaky means to escape predators including their camouflage coat and their ability to dig into the snow to hide.

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!

Explore More Quizzes