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Cheetahs on the Edge
November 26, 2012 6:38 PM   Subscribe

...the team captured every nuance of the cat’s movement as it reached top speeds of 60+ miles per hour (svl)
posted by mattoxic (54 comments total) 63 users marked this as a favorite

 
That is amazingly beautiful.

As you watch this, focus on the Cheeta's head. I've seen this with other predators as they are focused on a prey, no matter what movement is happening as it runs or stalks, the head is level, unmoving, focused....

Thanks for the link!
posted by HuronBob at 6:49 PM on November 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


Is this meant to be super super slow motion? Like, one frame, pause pause pause, next frame, pause pause pause, next frame? I honestly can't tell whether it is meant to be like that or whether there is an issue with my browser/computer.
posted by lollusc at 6:54 PM on November 26, 2012


The team in Cincinnati knows what they are doing with cheetah runs. During the filming, Sarah broke her own record, covering 100m in 5.95 seconds.

Their youngest cheetah, Savanna, made an adorable trip to New York to publicize this research.
posted by MrGuilt at 6:58 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lollusc, I think you might be having an issue. All I'm seeing is a seamless flow of rippling muscles, flying grass, exquisite fur, and claws.

Seriously, this video's amazing.
posted by Chutzler at 6:59 PM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


At the tend, they show the last part of the run in real time. What was amazing about that was not the cheetah's speed, but the amount of braking power the cheethah had to apply to stop. Beautiful animal, the intelligent designer really knew what he was doing!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:02 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I found it really interesting how still the Cheetah's head was. It was almost unnatural in slow motion, all this fluid muscle behind this pair of eyes that just stayed totally locked on target.
posted by Grimgrin at 7:10 PM on November 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Look at the counter at the top left! Can that be right? That's incredible.
posted by eugenen at 7:13 PM on November 26, 2012


Amazing video! I never knew cats held their heads so level and still when running.
posted by Eclipsante at 7:16 PM on November 26, 2012


Look at the counter at the top left! Can that be right?

I thought the same thing. No way that's right.
posted by dobbs at 7:16 PM on November 26, 2012


My favorite part is at about 6:27. I'm glad the cheetah caught the toy in the end.
posted by aniola at 7:26 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, that was beautiful!
posted by dougzilla at 7:36 PM on November 26, 2012


...the team captured every nuance of the cat’s movement as it reached top speeds of 60+ miles per hour

Before reading the post, did anyone else wonder how they safely got a housecat to go that fast?

No?

Tucks away his speculative cat-cannon and catcher's mitt designs
posted by underflow at 7:45 PM on November 26, 2012 [11 favorites]


Grimgrin: "I found it really interesting how still the Cheetah's head was."

Yeah, I was going to comment on that as well. Like a good batter in baseball, or even Luke in Star Wars
posted by exogenous at 7:47 PM on November 26, 2012


YOU'RE A KI-
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:48 PM on November 26, 2012 [11 favorites]


I've seen dogs get tangled in their own legs at full speed. If a cheetah ever did that it would be a terrible crash, but no cat would do anything that undignified. Pretty video, though I'm having some of the same loading problems lollusc mentions.
posted by Forktine at 7:48 PM on November 26, 2012


one frame, pause pause pause, next frame, pause pause pause, next frame?

That's my usual Vimeo experience as well.

Not this time, luckily.
posted by flabdablet at 8:01 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Vimeo often balks for me unless I've just given my computer the equivalent of a colonic. Hurray, it's up on Youtube now!
posted by droomoord at 8:01 PM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Gorgeous. Makes me happy and sad.
posted by maxwelton at 8:09 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Before reading the post, did anyone else wonder how they safely got a housecat to go that fast?

And were you not just the tiniest bit disappointed when it turned out to be a cheetah instead?

I already know cheetahs run really fast. The video is gorgeous, though, and I now desperately want to play catch the fluffy toy with a big cat.
posted by jeather at 8:13 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


This video is so amazing.

I have long wanted to commune with big cats and inspired from this, I googled, and there's a sanctuary within a few hours of me. I *have* to go there... Most cats love me, and I want to feel the majesty of being with these amazing animals... =^_^=
posted by symbioid at 8:35 PM on November 26, 2012


WOW. This is stunning.
posted by apricot at 8:37 PM on November 26, 2012


Somewhere, there are some *very* grateful animators making motion studies.
posted by smirkette at 9:03 PM on November 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


Everything about the cheetah seems designed for maximum speed, like a finely tuned race car. I wonder what the purpose of the fuzzy belly fur is?
posted by desjardins at 9:18 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cheetahs can help with the kids, too.
posted by Xoebe at 9:20 PM on November 26, 2012


Breathtaking. The cat I grew up with loved to stalk and chase paper towels on a string (she is pretty long in the tooth these days), but it would not have been nearly this majestic slowed down.

Also I love how at the end when the cheetah gets the toy at the end (spoiler?), these two people emerge out of the woods and just sort of nonchalantly wander up as if to be like "hey good job bud, have some tuna."
posted by en forme de poire at 9:35 PM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Very cool. Chris Johns, now the Editor-In-Chief of National Geographic, is an amazing photographer who spent many years documenting wild cheetahs in Africa. I was lucky enough to attend a fascinating slide show and talk he gave to a small group about his time with cheetahs. He mentioned that the difference between a captive and wild cheetah can be seen most distinctly in the difference in size of their chests, with the chests of wild cheetahs being significantly brawnier.

One pair of wild males that he documented through the years, from infancy to adulthood, he nicknamed "the adrenaline twins."
posted by bz at 9:44 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


The order of its footfalls is not entirely periodic. Using the point where both legs are extended to the front as the top of the cycle it's almost always rear(R, L) then front(L, R). Sometimes though it's rear(L, R) then front(L, R), or rear(L, R) then front(R, L). I never saw a rear(R, L) then front(R, L).
posted by sourwookie at 9:50 PM on November 26, 2012


I wonder what the purpose of the fuzzy belly fur is?

Fer scritchin' and pettin'.
posted by sourwookie at 9:52 PM on November 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


This makes me want to swim laps.
posted by unknowncommand at 9:53 PM on November 26, 2012


A fantastic short film, totally made by the 'behind of' at the end, where you see both the actual outcome of the chase, and how it was filmed. It seems to take a long way to slow down, but then I remembered how fast it was going. It decelerated from freeway speed in, what, about fifty feet? Without hurting itself?

I mean, you could be out in your car, doing the speed limit on many highways, and be passed by that cat. Briefly. And he can outbrake the hell out of you, too.

Totally ignoring how beautiful that footage is, and how supremely adapted it is as a predator.... just focusing on the raw numbers, biological machines are freaking amazing.
posted by Malor at 10:40 PM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is this meant to be super super slow motion? Like, one frame, pause pause pause, next frame, pause pause pause, next frame? I honestly can't tell whether it is meant to be like that or whether there is an issue with my browser/computer.

Click off the blue HD.
posted by dhartung at 10:47 PM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


You're a kittie!

Fun tip: To make the best cat toy, take a good strong string (I prefer 1/8" braided nylon rope for its weight) and a 2" wide strip of newspaper, maybe 8" long. Tie one end of the string around the middle of the paper strip and fold the paper down away from the rope. Now play with your cat.

This is the best toy because it engages the cats' eyes and ears. If you drag it along the floor like a mouse or spin it furiously through the air like in insect, your cat will be galvanized. Plus, as he/she catches it, it will leave little bits of simulated carnage all over the room.
posted by cman at 11:05 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


The order of its footfalls is not entirely periodic. Using the point where both legs are extended to the front as the top of the cycle it's almost always rear(R, L) then front(L, R). Sometimes though it's rear(L, R) then front(L, R), or rear(L, R) then front(R, L). I never saw a rear(R, L) then front(R, L).

Four legged animals run with a leading leg both in front and behind, they switch back and forth as they change direction and balance and can switch in front without switching behind although it affects the gait and they usually won't run for long like that. Young animals or ones making dramatic swerves are more likely to "cross-canter" like this (the technical term is "come discombobulated" fyi). Most are right legged, like this cheetah naturally ime. Also canter and gallop are different gaits with a different footfall and order of leg movement and as an animal accelerates and decelerates they will switch back and forth between.

Dressage horse doing tempi changes showing the changing of leading leg on command.

Also I have a sled dog with some sprint bloodlines (probably greyhound influence) and when she gets into a full run like that she runs like an arrow with her head held utterly level and seems to accelerate with every stride. Watching her run like this is a thing of beauty. Unless she's running straight at you, then it's terrifying.
posted by fshgrl at 11:45 PM on November 26, 2012 [12 favorites]


This video is awesome, but I agree with the others: how can Vimeo get away with being such a buffer-tastic laggard all the time?
posted by fightorflight at 12:32 AM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Cheetahs are wonderful. Human-raised cheetahs are beyond words, at least while still young. They purr like cats and get excited and play more like dogs. But the thing I always wonder about, is whether there is something useful about the spikey hair on the backs of their necks.
posted by Goofyy at 12:56 AM on November 27, 2012


If they'd used scrunched-up silver foil instead of that grey thing he'd have gone even faster.
posted by colie at 1:19 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


how can Vimeo get away with being such a buffer-tastic laggard all the time?

It's always been great for me. I think it's more a matter of how good your ISP is -- ie, how much upstream bandwidth it's buying. YouTube and NetFlix have installations in many areas of the country, so connecting many networks to them is super quick, easy, and cheap, but I think Vimeo is much smaller, and thus the traffic has to come out of your ISP's general bandwidth allocation, rather than just going to your local regional Youtube center on dedicated fiber.

On ISPs with lots of high quality general-purpose bandwidth, Vimeo looks better than Youtube. The video quality is much higher. If I were posting videos, that's where I'd put them first, though I'd also post them on YouTube.
posted by Malor at 2:08 AM on November 27, 2012


Can I thoroughly recommend showing this video to your cat? My not so interested mog just watched that intently, flipping her gaze form the tail to the head. I wish I could know what she was thinking, was it the equivalent of a motor nut looking at an Aston Martin?
posted by Augenblick at 3:41 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Look at the counter at the top left! Can that be right?

I thought the same thing. No way that's right.


60 mph is well within a cheetah's capability according to many sources. 60 mph is 88 feet per second. According to the counter that cat completes a little less than 5 full strides in the first second, making each stride around 19 feet long. For the counter to be slow, either the cat's velocity would have to be overstated too, or the strides would have to be even longer.
posted by jon1270 at 4:35 AM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Before reading the post, did anyone else wonder how they safely got a housecat to go that fast?

Can opener cracking into some tuna.
posted by radwolf76 at 4:43 AM on November 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


fshgrl, do the front legs mainly just work to catch the forward momentum in order to steer and maintain the level of the animal's body, as it seems in this video?

I love how the cheetah's back legs come forward together, but split as they propel the cat forward. Is this due to the cat's abdominal muscles pulling them simultaneously?


Hope you don't mind the questions, but you've outed yourself as the "animal gait" expert!
posted by orme at 6:10 AM on November 27, 2012


Everything about the cheetah seems designed for maximum speed, like a finely tuned race car. I wonder what the purpose of the fuzzy belly fur is?
posted by desjardins at 12:18 AM on November 27 [+] [!]


Because a cheetah's purr has curative qualities, which you can get by giving it a bellyrub, provided you can catch it...
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:08 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Orme, I don't know that much about cat movement specifically but yeah in general a running animals center of gravity is somewhere over the shoulders/ base of neck. Cats have that ultra flexible spine that allows them the huge strides. The cat has to be able to shift its weight rearward to turn and to capture its prey and those things both slow it down.

I think the hind legs are actually moving asynchronously throughout as part of the gait pattern, its just hard to see. Otherwise the cheetah would be moving forward in a series of bounds, which its not.

Although that is how running animals were drawn prior to the invention of photography as artists couldn't see the sequence of footfalls with the naked eye.
posted by fshgrl at 7:36 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can only hope that the next video features a laser pointer.
posted by dsword at 7:48 AM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Do big cats like catnip?
posted by desjardins at 8:15 AM on November 27, 2012


Do big cats like catnip?

A question about big cats? Big Cat Rescue to the... um, rescue.
posted by radwolf76 at 8:20 AM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love that place and highly recommend it if you're anywhere near Tampa. You can get much, much closer to them than you can at zoos (although you're still behind a fence). My favorite was the tiger who lolled around in a bath, belly exposed, giving zero fucks.
posted by desjardins at 9:41 AM on November 27, 2012


Chutzler: All I'm seeing is a seamless flow of rippling muscles, flying grass, exquisite fur, and claws.

I saw all that.

And balls. Lots of cheetah balls.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:31 AM on November 27, 2012


Oh sheesh. Repeated piano motif plus strings plus slow mo cheetah running and now I think there's something in my eye.

Wonderful.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:41 PM on November 27, 2012


It's literally throwing itself across the field in a straight line -- awesome.
posted by smidgen at 1:03 PM on November 27, 2012


Marvellous!. They have a making of too.
400 ft. of track set out. High speed camera that will do 100 mph. A camera that will shoot 1600 fps. 2560 x 1440, so 2K.
posted by unliteral at 4:30 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Augenblick: "Can I thoroughly recommend showing this video to your cat?"

Mine ignored it entirely. Lazy little beast.
posted by Lexica at 8:53 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm a little late to the party, but I have my part to say on cheetahs. I live in Kenya and I've had the ridiculously incredible blessing to see way more cheetah than your average human ever will. I'm not sure why I lucked out, but I'm pretty sure I'm better off than your average lottery winner.

At the same time, it is incredibly, soul crushingly sad to see these creatures in all their natural glory, and at the same time have to wonder if they will still exist when my grandchildren are my age. At this point its really an open question. I would like to do all I can to ensure that generations to come will get to see what I have.

Last July was the most incredible cheetah experience I have ever had. Basically, I got to watch live and in full real-life speed what this video showed and slowed down to all its microscopic glory. Really, its quite incredible how much of it you miss just watching it at normal-time speed, live right in front of your eyes. I mean, what I saw was amazing, but watching this video makes you realize just how amazing what I was seeing really was.

We had spent the sun-downer in the center of a ~100m triangle of lions, 2 mating couples and one jealous single male, as they did their evening roaring back and forth at each other. We turned the Landcruiser back towards camp and my guide flipped the headlights on and not 10 seconds later a Thompson's gazelle bolted across our trail, 50m up, at a breakneck pace. The I'm-being-chased-for-my-life kind of bolt, not the I'm-scared one. Sure enough, half a second later, cheetach crosses our headlights.

I'm sitting passenger seat with the infra-red spotlight so I follow him. He shortly gives up on that particular prey and adopts the unconcerned, nonchalant pose of any cat that was recently exerting itself but now is trying to make you forget that even happened.

But then he saw the lights of the reflected eyes of other Tommies in the light of my spotlight as I flashed it about the plain. And he started stalking again. My guide was swearing up and down how he had never seen a cheetah hunting at night, and was clearly excited.

Next thing I know, we are bouncing across the Mara savannah at 60km, in the dark, following a lolloping cheetah who is clearly happy to make use of the reflected light in the eyes of his prey. Mostly we were behind him but there was one spiritual moment at which he drifted off to the side and I watched him prance leisurely off to the side.

Then he hit his full stride.

Driving 60kmph in the dark is one thing, but a cheetah accelerating from that speed to 110kmph is another thing entirely. I'm not sure any McLaren could accelerate from 60 to 110 at the rate a cheetah could. It is like watching a fleshly, furry rocket achieve Mach 2 in the space of 50m. It literally left us behind and went off into the dark beyond where our lights could even reach.

One day I hope to see a cheetah kill in full daylight. One day I hope their numbers will vastly exceed 10m. I'm not sure either will ever happen in my lifetime, but there's a lot of things I'm hoping and working for that just might happen in spite of humanity.
posted by allkindsoftime at 1:03 PM on November 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


This is how I imagine your life, allkindsoftime:

You: So, Friend, what do you want to do tonight?

Friend: Eh, I dunno, what do you want to do?

You: Well, we could take a jaunt up Kilimanjaro...

Friend: Meh, I'm kinda tired.

You: Okay... Lion triangle again, then?

Friend: Yup, see you at 18:00. I'll bring a six-pack.
posted by desjardins at 11:10 AM on November 30, 2012


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