Museum at Home

Animal Athletes Challenge 6 | Running

Greatest Human Achievement

The fastest 100 m ever run was 9.58 sec by Usain Bolt from Jamaica in 2009 (37 km/h). The fastest 100 m by a female was 10.49 sec by Florence Griffith-Joyner from the USA in 1988 (34 km/h).

Animal Competitor 1: Emu

Amazing ability

Emus run fast (up to 50 km/h) to evade predators and travel large distances to find food.

Built for running

  • Long powerful legs
  • Special pelvic, thigh and calf muscles
  • Three forward-facing toes grip the ground to push it forward and help it swerve
  • Tiny wings help stabilise and steer when running

Where do they live?

Emus live throughout most of mainland Australia, except in true deserts and dense forests.

Animal Competitor 2: Ghost Crab

Amazing ability

Ghost crabs are the fastest crab in the world, reaching speeds of up to 7.56 km/h.


Built for running

  • Broad sternum (underneath crab, surrounding abdomen) to support strong leg muscles
  • Usually runs sideways
  • At slow speed, uses all 4 pairs of running legs; as it gets faster lifts two legs up and uses 3 pairs of legs; at fastest speed, only uses first and second pairs of legs, literally running. 

Where do they live?

Ghost crabs are common on tropical and subtropical sandy beaches worldwide.

At Home Challenge

You will need:

What to do:

  • Find a clear space to run. It should be at least 10 metres.
  • Ask someone to time you doing different runs.
  • Try running normally (with your arms pumping).
  • Try running with your arms by your side.
  • Try galloping sideways.
  • Try running on hands and legs.
  • Try running on hands and legs but upside down. This is really hard!
  • Make up your own funny run.
  • Record this result on your Challenge Sheet

To make this activity into a scientific experiment you need to identify a variable:

  • Try changing your footwear eg. run in bare feet, runners, boots.
  • Add weight, such as a heavy object in each hand.
  • Is your time faster or slower when you change these variables?

Video your results, post them online and tag #museumoftropicalqld #qldmuseum

At Home Activity

Make a running paper puppet!

You will need:

  • A paper puppet template printed on card or thick paper
  • Scissors
  • Coloured pencils or markers
  • 9 split pins (paper fasteners) - 19mm or less
  • Spare paper or cloth to make clothes for your running person.

What to do:

  • Colour in your running puppet pieces.
  • Cut out all the pieces.
  • Make holes in all the small circles by CAREFULLY* inserting a split pin, then removing it.
  • Place the head in front of the neck hole in the body. Push a split pin all the way into the head hole you have made through the neck hole. Then spread the two parts of the pin apart at the back.
  • Attach the arms and legs in the same way, making sure to put one of the legs and one of the upper arms behind the body.
  • Now you can make your puppet run, sit and jump.
  • You could also make clothes for your puppet.

What's happening?

You have made an articulated puppet. This means that the body parts are connected at their joints. At the museum, we sometimes join a skeleton together so that the bones connect. We call this an articulated skeleton.

Humans have a number of different types of joints that allow us to move in different ways. Some of them are:

  • Hinge joint – such as the elbow and knee joints
  • Pivot joint – such as the joint between the first and second neck bones that allows you to shake your head
  • Ball and socket joint – this is the most mobile of the joints and includes the shoulder and hip joints.

Image credits: Melissa Keizer / Unsplash; Queensland Museum