World's fastest ant hits record-breaking speed of TWO miles per hour

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The fastest ant in the world can run 108 times the length of its own body every second.

Named the Saharan silver, after the desert in which it lives it runs at a pace that, in human terms, would be equivalent to running at 360mph.

The tiny creature runs faster in proportion to its own body than a cheetah and manages about 12 strides for every one that Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt does in a second. 

The Saharan silver's muscle contraction speed may be 'close to physiological limits', they say.

It reaches a record speed of 33.7 inches (855 millimetres) a second by swinging its six tiny legs incredibly quickly.

This enables it to take up to 50 strides a second. To put this in perspective, Usain Bolt manages four.

What's more it does it in the hottest place on Earth – where the sun rules mercilessly.

The vast wilderness, as big as the United States, is the toughest part of Africa.

They venture from their nests to scavenge the corpses of dead animals at the peak of the day - when the sand can reach 60°C (140F).

The silver hairs on their back act as the ultimate sunshade - reflecting the rays and repelling the heat back towards the sky.

Lead author Professor Harald Wolf, an arthropod expert at the University of Ulm, said: 'Even among desert ants, the silver ants are special.'

Footage of a Saharan silver ant (Cataglyphis bombycina) running highlighting when the legs are in contact with the ground and when they are swinging

Footage of a Saharan silver ant (Cataglyphis bombycina) running highlighting when the legs are in contact with the ground and when they are swinging

But little was known about how they scamper at such blistering speeds across the sand.

So Prof Wolf and colleagues captured the enigmatic desert dwellers on camera after finding them thriving in the dunes during a visit to the salt pans of Tunisia.

Locating the inconspicuous nests was far from easy. Explained lab member Dr Sarah Pfeffer: 'We had to look for digging ants or follow a foraging ant back home.'

But once the researchers had located a nest, it was simply a matter of connecting an aluminium channel to the entrance - and placing a feeder at the end to lure them out.

Dr Pfeffer said: 'After the ants have found the food - they love mealworms - they shuttle back and forth in the channel and we mounted our camera to film them from the top.'

The researchers also excavated a nest, returning with it to record the insects running more slowly at cooler temperatures.

Saharan silver ant (Cataglyphis bombycina) workers in the desert at Douz, Tunisia

Saharan silver ant (Cataglyphis

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