July 27, 2012 | David F. Coppedge

Animals Win the Gold

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.”

Science Daily posted a similar comparison of human-animal capabilities.

We may not fly like eagles or run like cheetahs, but we humans were given a remarkable suite of special abilities.  What other creature can run a marathon, swim the English Channel, jump 2.5 meters, lift 167 kg overhead, dive from 20 meters flipping and spinning to enter the water without a splash, perform complex floor exercise moves to music, spin around a pommel horse by the hands, ride horses over hurdles, shoot arrows and bullets with extreme accuracy, and all the other Olympic feats – to say nothing of writing books, composing music, and showing compassion and stewardship over all the other creatures on the planet?

What we can’t do, we can build: we fly aircraft to follow the birds, build submarines to follow the whales, and set up bases at the south pole to follow the penguins.  We create protective coverings for all kinds of environments.  No other animal explores space or ponders the origin and fate of the universe.  No animal does science, prays, and shows true agape love.  No other earthly being shows righteous indignation.  No animals hold sporting events to celebrate their physical gifts.  It’s not so bad being human.  As we celebrate they joy of victory for those who have worked for years to become the very best, remember that we really are celebrating our Creator’s gifts to us.  Let us use these gifts to honor our Maker, not just ourselves.

Suggested reading: The Wonder of Man by Werner Gitt (1999): mind-boggling facts about the human senses.


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