Cheetahs hold the record for being the fastest land animal and are a top predator in their habitat. Watching a cheetah on a run-down is awe-inspiring, and with new high-speed cameras capturing every second, even more so.
They can turn on a dime all while keeping their eyes focused on their prey and not miss a beat. What makes them so good? Turns out, in comparison to other felines, cheetahs have significantly larger vestibular structures, with a greater volume of the inner ear devoted to the vestibular structures.
The vestibular ocular reflex (VOR) is responsible for maintaining stable vision during head movement and is controlled by our vestibular system. Researcher hypothesize that the inner ear of these predators have evolved to increase their ability to maintain stable vision, coordinate postural reflexes, and keep their head oriented all while running at top speed to overtake their prey, like hares, antelopes, and zebras.
For more information on the remarkable vestibular system of the cheetah check out the link below.
Grohe C et al. (2018) Recent inner ear specialization for high-speed hunting in cheetahs. Scientific Reports. 23(1).
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