By Valerie Watson

When I set out to write this week's quiz, I took a look at the two main articles and thought, "OK. Turbo. Beef. Cows that move fast!" Sadly, a brief spate of Interwebs research proved this to be a lean topic indeed.

Cowboys will tell you that trying to get cattle to move at high speeds is counterproductive. Their job when bringing grass-fed cattle down from the grazing lands is to get the dogies to move just fast enough to get where they're going without having them sweat off any of the valuable beef weight they've put on while they've been fattening up. I found mention of a one-mile cow race in which a top bovine speed of roughly 8 miles per hour was achieved, and some anecdotal evidence of cows traveling anywhere from 5 to 20 miles per hour, but I found nothing concrete and scientific, with the levels of trustworthiness we usually demand of the reference materials we use for our newsletter quizzes.

Still, this got me thinking: what animals move the fastest, and where do cows fit in that hierarchy? I know the top speed my two cats can achieve while running across my living room floor is only limited by the speed at which I move the laser pointer they're chasing. (And, of course, the nearness of the wall.) Recent news stories about the British cat with the bionic legs aside, there are measurable land speeds for a variety of the earth's critters. Your job? Rank them from fastest to slowest.
  1. Cheetah – When sprinting, a cheetah can achieve land speeds from 65 to 70 miles per hour. (This is when they're not distracted by activities like lounging, wearing sunglasses, and snacking on cheese puffs.)
  2. Ostrich – At its fastest, an ostrich can run 45 to 50 miles per hour. You'd probably run that fast, too, if people were trying to make purses and burgers out of you. Poor gawky long-legged bird-beasts.
  3. Bison (the most cowlike creature on the list!) – A bison's top speed has been clocked at 30 to 35 miles per hour. Why they couldn't satisfy my curiosity and also test a cow I may never be privileged to know, but I'll have to be satisfied by this cow-adjacent data.
  4. Usain Bolt – The human sprint champion's top measured speed works out to 27.3 miles per hour. No jokes necessary; the dude is just fast. (As long as he's not racing against, say, a non-cheese-puff distracted cheetah. OK, one joke.)
  5. Squirrel – A squirrel can run 10 to 12 miles per hour at top speed. Sadly, during peak squirrel season, I've seen abundant evidence that this is not always fast enough to outrun the cars on my street. Squirrels also aren't always fast enough to get away from (political correctness alert! I do not condone this behavior in any way) my dad's BB gun.