Published July 30, 2012
The Summer Olympic Games have begun with mostly hairless, bipedal athletes vying for gold. But how would record-breaking runners, such as the fastest man in the world Usain Bolt, fare against the wilder side of the animal kingdom?
Turns out, Usain Bolt would be left in the dust by greyhounds, cheetahs and pronghorn antelope (if he were to take the four-leggers up on a challenge), writes Craig Sharp of the Centre for Sports Medicine and Human Performance at Brunel University in a commentary in the journal Veterinary Record.
Sharp points out animal athleticism that would put to shame many a human Olympian, while also noting humans would take home gold in athletic versatility at the Summer Olympic Games.
No worries, though, us bipedallers would give the Dromedary camel a run for its money, at least the fastest of us would. Human runners max out at a speed of 23.4 miles per hour (37.6 kilometers per hour), Sharp said. The Dromedary camel? This ungulate tops out at 22 mph (35.3 kph). [Look Quick! Gallery of the Fastest Animals]
A cheetah would clock in at 64 mph (104 kph), or about twice as fast as the world's top sprinters, while the pronghorn antelope would likely be on the medal stand, pulling out a speed of 55 mph (89 kph). Even he fastest bird, the ostrich, may also take home a medal in one of the running events, clocking some 40 mph (64 kph).
In the pool, both Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps may have some competition; sailfish can reach a swimming speed of 67 mph (108 kph).
Here's a look at some possible line-ups if some other animals were to participate in the Olympic Games:
Even Olympic weightlifters would have to contend with some fierce competition from the African elephant, which can lift 661 pounds (300 kilograms) with its trunk and carry 1,807 pounds (820 kg), the grizzly bear, which can tote some 1,003 pounds (455 kg), and the gorilla, which can lift a whopping 1,984 pounds (900 kg).
Copyright 2012 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.