Keeping the head still whilst the rest of the body moves, twists and turns with velocity is key to the cheetah’s coordinated power and ability to keep prey in sight, leading to its hunting success.
Camille Grohé’s team of biologists at the American Museum of Natural History in New York looked at seven modern cheetahs from various populations and saw that even extinct cheetahs who died 126,000 years ago had larger and in some places longer inner ears than other cats.
This combined with lighter thinner bones makes them the fastest hunters as well, reaching speeds of 60 kilometres an hour and killing 58% of pursued prey.
Cheetahs are the third most successful hunters after wild dogs and the tiny black footed feral cat. They fared better than peregrine falcons, leopards, domestic cats, lions, wolves, polar bears and tigers – who were only successful 5% of the time.