October 20 2015
When it comes to feats of speed and strength, Homo sapiens is a pretty pitiful species. The list of animals that can outsprint us is embarrassing. There's the cheetah, of course, but also horses, ostriches, greyhounds, grizzly bears, kangaroos, wild boars, even some house cats.
Usain Bolt, the fastest man alive, ran 100 meters in 9.58 seconds. A cheetah has done it in 5.95.
Based on the their speed unspooling fishing lines, we think black marlins can travel 80 mph. But you don't need the fastest fish on the planet to make gold medal swimmer César Cielo look slow. He also falls behind the Gentoo penguin and the common octopus, not to mention a whole lot of species of fish.
A snow leopard easily jumps farther than world-record holder Mike Powell.
An elephant can lift more than Belorussian sensation Leonid Taranenko, and that's just with its trunk.
But there is one event where humans might best every other species: the marathon. We may not be sprinters, but we can run incredibly long distances.
The latest video from NPR's Skunk Bear explores the physiology and evolution behind humanity's secret power, and takes you to a race in Wales that pits humans against horses. Now there's one human vs. animal race where we stand a chance.
See the video: