As the Olympics begin in London, it’s fun to consider how animals would compete against humans.

The BBC Nature News wrote up a list of amazing animals that, adjusted for size, could outperform humans in certain Olympic events.

  • 100 meter sprint would be won by the cheetah, the brown hare, or the patas monkey.
  • Marathon could be run in under an hour by a pronghorn if it could sustain its peak rate that long; but humans are the ultimate long-distance runners (11/18/2004).
  • High jump: humans would have trouble, size for size, outcompeting grasshoppers, kangaroos or frogs.  A nocturnal primate called the bush baby (see video clip) at human proportions could jump over two stacked double-decker London buses.  Then there are jumping spiders, able to jump 30 times their body height, springtails, able to jump (at human size) over the Eiffel Tower.  The gold would probably go to fleas, able to jump 200 times their size.
  • Javelin champs in the animal world are the bolas spider (see video), and that hat thrower fungus, a 5 cm organism able to throw a sport 2 meters.

“Luckily,” reporter Jeremy Coles wrote, “modern Olympic athletes do not have to compete with nature’s greatest as they would be out sprinted by a monkey, out jumped by a springtail and out thrown by a tiny fungus.”….

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