As most readers of this site will know, I’m fascinated by studies of human limits, so this one caught my eye today from the Journal of Experimental Biology:
Mark W. Denny
Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University, Pacific Grove, CA 93950, USA
Are there absolute limits to the speed at which animals can run? If so, how close are present-day individuals to these limits? I approach these questions by using three statistical models and data from competitive races to estimate maximum running speeds for greyhounds, thoroughbred horses and elite human athletes. In each case, an absolute speed limit is definable, and the current record approaches that predicted maximum. While all such extrapolations must be used cautiously, these data suggest that there are limits to the ability of either natural or artificial selection to produce ever faster dogs, horses and humans. Quantification of the limits to running speed may aid in formulating and testing models of locomotion.