CLOSE
Original image
Warthog via iStock

See How the Best Human Athletes Stack Up Against Average Animals

Original image
Warthog via iStock

Usain Bolt might be the fastest human ever, but he’s still not faster than your average warthog. Bolt’s record, set at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, is 27.8 miles an hour—but an ordinary warthog, without any fancy training or equipment, can run more than 30 miles an hour. So can the average house cat. And they’re not even the fastest species in the animal kingdom: That honor belongs to the peregrine falcon, which can zip through the skies at 184 mph.

Michelle Enemark and Cara Giaimo of Atlas Obscura put together an infographic that shows how the most athletically gifted homo sapiens stack up against various other animals. Think Simone Manuel is a fast swimmer? She’s not faster than a blue whale, let alone a sailfish. And as for high jumps, the reigning human has nothing on a pitbull or klipspringer (a type of small antelope).

While it might not seem entirely fair to pit humans against other animals—after all, each species has evolved to suit its own ecological niche—the infographic serves to "dampen" what Giaimo calls (tongue firmly in cheek) the “rampant speciesism” of the Olympics. And it’s a nice reminder that we’re far from the only amazing animal out there—even if we’re (usually) the only ones bagging lucrative endorsement deals. Check it out below.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

Original image
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
Why Do Cats Freak Out After Pooping?
Original image
iStock

Cats often exhibit some very peculiar behavior, from getting into deadly combat situations with their own tail to pouncing on unsuspecting humans. Among their most curious habits: running from their litter box like a greyhound after moving their bowels. Are they running from their own fecal matter? Has waste elimination prompted a sense of euphoria?

Experts—if anyone is said to qualify as an expert in post-poop moods—aren’t exactly sure, but they’ve presented a number of entertaining theories. From a biological standpoint, some animal behaviorists suspect that a cat bolting after a deposit might stem from fears that a predator could track them based on the smell of their waste. But researchers are quick to note that they haven’t observed cats run from their BMs in the wild.

Biology also has a little bit to do with another theory, which postulates that cats used to getting their rear ends licked by their mother after defecating as kittens are showing off their independence by sprinting away, their butts having taken on self-cleaning properties in adulthood.

Not convinced? You might find another idea more plausible: Both humans and cats have a vagus nerve running from their brain stem. In both species, the nerve can be stimulated by defecation, leading to a pleasurable sensation and what some have labeled “poo-phoria,” or post-poop elation. In running, the cat may simply be working off excess energy brought on by stimulation of the nerve.

Less interesting is the notion that notoriously hygienic cats may simply want to shake off excess litter or fecal matter by running a 100-meter dash, or that a digestive problem has led to some discomfort they’re attempting to flee from. The fact is, so little research has been done in the field of pooping cat mania that there’s no universally accepted answer. Like so much of what makes cats tick, a definitive motivation will have to remain a mystery.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

Original image
RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/GettyImages
arrow
Animals
Listen to the Impossibly Adorable Sounds of a Baby Sloth
Original image
RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/GettyImages

Sometimes baby sloths seem almost too adorable to be real. But the little muppet-faced treasures don't just look cute—turns out they sound cute, too. We know what you're thinking: How could you have gone your whole life without knowing what these precious creatures sound like? Well, fear not: Just in time for International Sloth Day (today), we have some footage of how the tiny mammals express themselves—and it's a lot of squeaking. (Or maybe that's you squealing?)

The sloths featured in the heart-obliterating video below come from the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica. The institution rescues orphaned sloths, rehabilitates them, and gets them ready to be released back into the wild.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios