Answered by Emily Holschuh – Idaho Falls Zoo Volunteer Coordinator
When we ask this question we often start searching for answers on the ground. But to accurately answer we’ll have to look up to the skies.
The fastest two-legged animal is the Peregrine Falcon who reaches speeds of up to 240 mph!
Peregrines can be seen all over North America, but are more common along coasts. In fact, this falcon is one of the most widespread birds in the world, these birds can be spotted on all continents with the exception of Antarctica. During regular flight the Peregrine Falcon travels around 35 mph, reaching speeds up to 70 mph when in direct pursuit of prey. But the real speed is seen during the hunting dive. During this dive the Peregrine Falcon reaches speeds of up to 240mph making it the fastest two-legged animal.
Many of us immediately think of land animals when we ask this question. In this case, the answer would be….Ostriches!
Ostriches are the fastest biped land animal. At the sprint they can reach up to 43 mph and can maintain a steady speed of 31 mph. Because the Ostrich has incredibly long legs, powerful thighs and strong feet the Ostrich can cover up to 16ft in just one stride. To compare, humans have an average stride length of only 2.5 feet.
They have wings, so why can’t ostriches fly?
Ostriches use their wings for balance, to change direction and most importantly, for displays of courtship rather than for flight.
Fast Peregrine Facts!
Peregrine Falcons have a third eyelid called a nictating membrane to protect their eyes by clearing debris and spread tears while diving.
They also have small bony ridges on their nostrils to divert airflow away when the pressure from a
high-speed dive could injure the bird’s lungs.
The Idaho State Quarter has the Peregrine Falcon on it.
What does biped mean? An animal that uses two legs for walking.