Examples of cheetah adaptations include a lithe body, a small head, a “tear eye,” and many other things. All of these adaptations make the cheetah the formidable predator that it is today.
The cheetah is one of the most prolific hunters among all big cats. It is also the fastest, and this title did not happen by happenstance. The cheetah has evolved to be one scary predator, and a perfect one at that. Below are the top 10 cheetah adaptations that make it a terrifying beast.
1. Super Speed
The cheetah is the fastest land animal, and it can gain a top speed of 130 kilometers per hour, and no animal on land can outrun a hungry cheetah.
One downside, however, is that a cheetah can only do this for a short period of time. The cheetah cannot sustain this speed for a long period. It is an evolutionary sacrifice—the cheetah has no long-lasting stamina. Its endurance is poor, so it has to be close to the prey to make its run a successful one.
2. Natural Sunglasses
The face of the cheetah has two lines below the eyes that look like dried tears. These are not useless pigmentation, as these lines help reduce the glare from the sun.
The cheetah lives in the savannah, and hunts during the day. As such, the sun can be so up high that sun can be blinding at times. The tear marks help reduce the glare, making the cheetah see better even at high noon. Today, even humans put smudges below their eyes when playing football to reduce the sun’s glare.
3. Daylight Hunting
The cheetah may be fast, but it is not strong. It is a lightweight for a big cat and can easily lose a fight against other predators. As such, hunting during the day is an adaptation that the cheetah must make, so it can avoid other predators like the lion.
Lions and other animals hunt at night. If the chetah hunted during the same period, it would certainly lose. Because of this danger the cheetah has to adapt to a daylight hunting strategy, or a diurnal lifestyle.
4. Natural Camouflage
The spots of the cheetah are nice to look at, but they have a purpose. These spots offset their shadows, making it harder for other animals to see beneath the tall grasses of the savannah.
With this camouflage, they can come closer to the prey without being spotted. Once the cheetah is close enough, it is ready to pounce on the unsuspecting prey. It is a similar technique that a tiger uses, but the tiger cannot run as fast as a cheetah.
5. Rudder Tails
The cheetah’s tail is a steering wheel—it is an important tool for the cheetah to balance its body to make turns during a run. With it, a cheetah can easily make maneuvers and catch up with an equally speedy prey like a rabbit or a gazelle.
The tail acts like a rudder—same one that people use to steer a boat. Its shape has effects on the cheetah’s aerodynamics. When in a sprint, the feet of a cheetah barely touch the ground. Shifting the tail has an impact to its body’s balance and position in the air, making it easy for the cheetah to change directions swiftly.
6. Cleat Feet
The feet of the cheetah have retractable claws. They resemble the feet of a dog, unlike other cats that can fully retract their claws. It is like that because the cheetah needs better traction on the ground.
When a cheetah runs, its feed need traction, or grip. If the claws are fully retracted, even by accident, the chetah cannot achieve the right friction or grip on the ground.
In addition, the pads of the paws of a cheetah are hard. The reason being is that it prevents injury while the cheetah is running at full speed.
7. Hair Camouflage
When cheetah babies are born, they have long hair or fur that will eventually normalize and become short. This is an adaptation to allow them to hide from predators.
Chetah cubs, like other mammals, are helpless. They get hunted down when their mother is away looking for food. Their silvery fur, which is technically referred to as a mantle, allows them to hide in the grass and prevent predators from seeing them.
8. Controlled Drinking
The cheetah has adapted to conserve water. Water is environment in a cheetah’s environment, so its body must adapt to this scarcity. Unlike a camel, the cheetah did not develop a hump. If it did, it would compromise the chetah’s speed.
A cheetah only needs to drink water every three or four days. It usually looks for a watering hole in the dry land. What makes a cheetah unique is that it can take water from its prey’s blood. On extreme occasions, a cheetah may drink only once in ten days.
9. Bendy Spine
The cheetah has a bendy spine that allows it to run the way it does. The spine bends more than the spine of other big cats, and it is why the cheetah can retract and stretch its body as it runs.
Without this type of spine, the cheetah will get hurt running at these speeds. The bendy spine is structurally sound, allowing its body to absorb shock and giving the entire body flexion to achieve top speeds.
10. Built for Running
The entire body of a cheetah has adapted to running at fast speeds. Its feet are long, its body is small, and its head is almost small. All of these contribute to the amazing speed of a cheetah.
The cheetah’s heart is powerful, and it can keep up with [umping blood during an adrenaline-filled hunt. The cheetah also has large lungs, which allows the chetah to process oxygen faster, and distribute it to the muscles of themuch-needed power during a sprint.
The cheetah is a machine that evolution has perfected over many years. It has speed, and its entire body adapted to meet this very purpose—to be the fastest animal on earth. A cheetah’s speed is its fundamental tool. Sure, its teeth are also powerful, but the cheetah is not physically as powerful as other big cats like the jaguar or lion. The cheetah’s speed comes at a cost—it is a weak cat. However, the speed is more than enough to make up for what it lacks in power.
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