Spotlights

Meet the fastest land animal, the magnificent Cheetah
August 4, 2011 10:49 AM - BBC Earth

It is well documented who are the speed demons of the Animal Kingdom. We all know that a cheetah can reach speeds of up to 60 mph in a mere three seconds and that the Atlantic sailfish leaps to the top of the podium as the fastest creature in the ocean. Yet it is rarely asked why. What parts of their body have evolved to make them so fast, and for what purpose? In this series, BBC Earth peels back the fur and the scales of these incredible creatures to reveal what it is that makes them so fast. As the world's fastest land mammal, the cheetah's ability for acceleration starts on the inside. The spotted cat mobilizes glycogen molecules that are stored in its large liver to provide huge bursts of energy. However these surges are short lived because they produce an unwelcome by-product, lactic acid, which builds up and causes painful cramps. Which means that cheetahs can only run at full speed for up to 30 seconds. Cheetah's are not just one-trick cats, they have other adaptations up their sleeves, or rather within its hair. Their distinctive spotted coat makes them almost invisible when creeping slowly through the African grasslands. The longer that they can stay camouflaged and the closer they get to their target, the more likely they are to catch their prey before they run out of steam.

Meet the fastest land animal, the magnificent Cheetah
August 4, 2011 10:49 AM - BBC Earth

It is well documented who are the speed demons of the Animal Kingdom. We all know that a cheetah can reach speeds of up to 60 mph in a mere three seconds and that the Atlantic sailfish leaps to the top of the podium as the fastest creature in the ocean. Yet it is rarely asked why. What parts of their body have evolved to make them so fast, and for what purpose? In this series, BBC Earth peels back the fur and the scales of these incredible creatures to reveal what it is that makes them so fast. As the world's fastest land mammal, the cheetah's ability for acceleration starts on the inside. The spotted cat mobilizes glycogen molecules that are stored in its large liver to provide huge bursts of energy. However these surges are short lived because they produce an unwelcome by-product, lactic acid, which builds up and causes painful cramps. Which means that cheetahs can only run at full speed for up to 30 seconds. Cheetah's are not just one-trick cats, they have other adaptations up their sleeves, or rather within its hair. Their distinctive spotted coat makes them almost invisible when creeping slowly through the African grasslands. The longer that they can stay camouflaged and the closer they get to their target, the more likely they are to catch their prey before they run out of steam.

Meet the fastest land animal, the magnificent Cheetah
August 4, 2011 10:49 AM - BBC Earth

It is well documented who are the speed demons of the Animal Kingdom. We all know that a cheetah can reach speeds of up to 60 mph in a mere three seconds and that the Atlantic sailfish leaps to the top of the podium as the fastest creature in the ocean. Yet it is rarely asked why. What parts of their body have evolved to make them so fast, and for what purpose? In this series, BBC Earth peels back the fur and the scales of these incredible creatures to reveal what it is that makes them so fast. As the world's fastest land mammal, the cheetah's ability for acceleration starts on the inside. The spotted cat mobilizes glycogen molecules that are stored in its large liver to provide huge bursts of energy. However these surges are short lived because they produce an unwelcome by-product, lactic acid, which builds up and causes painful cramps. Which means that cheetahs can only run at full speed for up to 30 seconds. Cheetah's are not just one-trick cats, they have other adaptations up their sleeves, or rather within its hair. Their distinctive spotted coat makes them almost invisible when creeping slowly through the African grasslands. The longer that they can stay camouflaged and the closer they get to their target, the more likely they are to catch their prey before they run out of steam.

Meet the fastest land animal, the magnificent Cheetah
August 4, 2011 10:49 AM - BBC Earth

It is well documented who are the speed demons of the Animal Kingdom. We all know that a cheetah can reach speeds of up to 60 mph in a mere three seconds and that the Atlantic sailfish leaps to the top of the podium as the fastest creature in the ocean. Yet it is rarely asked why. What parts of their body have evolved to make them so fast, and for what purpose? In this series, BBC Earth peels back the fur and the scales of these incredible creatures to reveal what it is that makes them so fast. As the world's fastest land mammal, the cheetah's ability for acceleration starts on the inside. The spotted cat mobilizes glycogen molecules that are stored in its large liver to provide huge bursts of energy. However these surges are short lived because they produce an unwelcome by-product, lactic acid, which builds up and causes painful cramps. Which means that cheetahs can only run at full speed for up to 30 seconds. Cheetah's are not just one-trick cats, they have other adaptations up their sleeves, or rather within its hair. Their distinctive spotted coat makes them almost invisible when creeping slowly through the African grasslands. The longer that they can stay camouflaged and the closer they get to their target, the more likely they are to catch their prey before they run out of steam.

Meet the fastest land animal, the magnificent Cheetah
August 4, 2011 10:49 AM - BBC Earth

It is well documented who are the speed demons of the Animal Kingdom. We all know that a cheetah can reach speeds of up to 60 mph in a mere three seconds and that the Atlantic sailfish leaps to the top of the podium as the fastest creature in the ocean. Yet it is rarely asked why. What parts of their body have evolved to make them so fast, and for what purpose? In this series, BBC Earth peels back the fur and the scales of these incredible creatures to reveal what it is that makes them so fast. As the world's fastest land mammal, the cheetah's ability for acceleration starts on the inside. The spotted cat mobilizes glycogen molecules that are stored in its large liver to provide huge bursts of energy. However these surges are short lived because they produce an unwelcome by-product, lactic acid, which builds up and causes painful cramps. Which means that cheetahs can only run at full speed for up to 30 seconds. Cheetah's are not just one-trick cats, they have other adaptations up their sleeves, or rather within its hair. Their distinctive spotted coat makes them almost invisible when creeping slowly through the African grasslands. The longer that they can stay camouflaged and the closer they get to their target, the more likely they are to catch their prey before they run out of steam.

Meet the fastest land animal, the magnificent Cheetah
August 4, 2011 10:49 AM - BBC Earth

It is well documented who are the speed demons of the Animal Kingdom. We all know that a cheetah can reach speeds of up to 60 mph in a mere three seconds and that the Atlantic sailfish leaps to the top of the podium as the fastest creature in the ocean. Yet it is rarely asked why. What parts of their body have evolved to make them so fast, and for what purpose? In this series, BBC Earth peels back the fur and the scales of these incredible creatures to reveal what it is that makes them so fast. As the world's fastest land mammal, the cheetah's ability for acceleration starts on the inside. The spotted cat mobilizes glycogen molecules that are stored in its large liver to provide huge bursts of energy. However these surges are short lived because they produce an unwelcome by-product, lactic acid, which builds up and causes painful cramps. Which means that cheetahs can only run at full speed for up to 30 seconds. Cheetah's are not just one-trick cats, they have other adaptations up their sleeves, or rather within its hair. Their distinctive spotted coat makes them almost invisible when creeping slowly through the African grasslands. The longer that they can stay camouflaged and the closer they get to their target, the more likely they are to catch their prey before they run out of steam.

How to avoid being eaten by lions
July 29, 2011 07:10 AM - BBC Earth

Being eaten by lions is probably something we’d all like to avoid. Deadly 60 presenter Steve Backshall shares his top tips to help us steer clear of the killer jaws of big cats. 1. Stay in the car. "Lions don't see a car as prey, so you're safer inside', our director Giles insists, if you're in a vehicle, stay in it. 2. If you go tracking on foot be extra vigilant. 3. Always travel with a local guide. (Our team had two local guides with them at all times.) 4. Carry a big stick and a firearm. (But use them as a deterrent, never intending to inflict harm on the animal. A hurt lion is a very angry lion.) 5. Keep your eyes open: You'd be amazed how close a 500lb lion can get without you noticing. 6. Always have a 'spotter'. Just because you’re filming one lion, doesn't mean there isn't another behind you.

How to avoid being eaten by lions
July 29, 2011 07:10 AM - BBC Earth

Being eaten by lions is probably something we’d all like to avoid. Deadly 60 presenter Steve Backshall shares his top tips to help us steer clear of the killer jaws of big cats. 1. Stay in the car. "Lions don't see a car as prey, so you're safer inside', our director Giles insists, if you're in a vehicle, stay in it. 2. If you go tracking on foot be extra vigilant. 3. Always travel with a local guide. (Our team had two local guides with them at all times.) 4. Carry a big stick and a firearm. (But use them as a deterrent, never intending to inflict harm on the animal. A hurt lion is a very angry lion.) 5. Keep your eyes open: You'd be amazed how close a 500lb lion can get without you noticing. 6. Always have a 'spotter'. Just because you’re filming one lion, doesn't mean there isn't another behind you.

How to avoid being eaten by lions
July 29, 2011 07:10 AM - BBC Earth

Being eaten by lions is probably something we’d all like to avoid. Deadly 60 presenter Steve Backshall shares his top tips to help us steer clear of the killer jaws of big cats. 1. Stay in the car. "Lions don't see a car as prey, so you're safer inside', our director Giles insists, if you're in a vehicle, stay in it. 2. If you go tracking on foot be extra vigilant. 3. Always travel with a local guide. (Our team had two local guides with them at all times.) 4. Carry a big stick and a firearm. (But use them as a deterrent, never intending to inflict harm on the animal. A hurt lion is a very angry lion.) 5. Keep your eyes open: You'd be amazed how close a 500lb lion can get without you noticing. 6. Always have a 'spotter'. Just because you’re filming one lion, doesn't mean there isn't another behind you.

How to avoid being eaten by lions
July 29, 2011 07:10 AM - BBC Earth

Being eaten by lions is probably something we’d all like to avoid. Deadly 60 presenter Steve Backshall shares his top tips to help us steer clear of the killer jaws of big cats. 1. Stay in the car. "Lions don't see a car as prey, so you're safer inside', our director Giles insists, if you're in a vehicle, stay in it. 2. If you go tracking on foot be extra vigilant. 3. Always travel with a local guide. (Our team had two local guides with them at all times.) 4. Carry a big stick and a firearm. (But use them as a deterrent, never intending to inflict harm on the animal. A hurt lion is a very angry lion.) 5. Keep your eyes open: You'd be amazed how close a 500lb lion can get without you noticing. 6. Always have a 'spotter'. Just because you’re filming one lion, doesn't mean there isn't another behind you.