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Temporal range: Pliocene - Holocene, 3–0  Ma
Cheetah Botswana.jpg
Cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Felidae
Subfamily: Felinae
Tribe: Acinonychini
Genus: Acinonyx
Brookes, 1828
  • CynailurusWagner, 1830
  • CynofelisLesson, 1842
  • GueparBoitard, 1842
  • GuepardaGray, 1843
  • GuepardusDuvernoy, 1834
  • Paracinonyx Kretzoi, 1929

Acinonyx is a genus within the cat family. [1] The only living species of this genus, the cheetah A. jubatus, lives in open grasslands of Africa and Asia. [2]


Several fossil remains of cheetah-like cats were excavated that date to the late Pliocene and Middle Pleistocene. [3] These cats occurred in Africa, parts of Europe and Asia about 10,000 years ago. Several similar species, classified in the genus Miracinonyx , lived in North America at the same time; these may have been more closely related to the genus Puma . [2]


Acinonyx was proposed by Joshua Brookes in 1828. [4]

Between the late 18th century and the early 20th century, the following Acinonyx species and subspecies were described: [1]

In 1993, Acinonyx was placed in the monophyletic subfamily Acinonychinae. Molecular phylogenetic analysis has shown that it is the sister group of the genus Puma, and it is now placed within the subfamily Felinae. [1]

In addition, the following fossil Acinonyx species were described:

The "Linxia Cheetah" was initially described on the basis of a skull from Pliocene strata in China, and touted as the most primitive member of the genus. In 2012, A. kurteni was invalidated as a species when the holotype was determined to be a forgery composed of Miocene-aged fragments. [13] [14]

See also

Related Research Articles

Felidae Family of mammals

Felidae is a family of mammals in the order Carnivora, colloquially referred to as cats, and constitutes a clade. A member of this family is also called a felid. The term "cat" refers both to felids in general and specifically to the domestic cat.

Cheetah Large feline of the genus Acinonyx

The cheetah is a large cat native to Africa and central Iran. It is the fastest land animal, capable of running at 80 to 128 km/h, and as such has several adaptations for speed, including a light build, long thin legs and a long tail. Cheetahs typically reach 67–94 cm (26–37 in) at the shoulder, and the head-and-body length is between 1.1 and 1.5 m. Adults typically weigh between 20 and 65 kg. Its head is small, rounded, and has a short snout and black tear-like facial streaks. The coat is typically tawny to creamy white or pale buff and is mostly covered with evenly spaced, solid black spots. Four subspecies are recognised.

<i>Panthera</i> Genus within Felidae

Panthera is a genus within the family Felidae that was named and described by Lorenz Oken in 1816 who placed all the spotted cats in this group. Reginald Innes Pocock revised the classification of this genus in 1916 as comprising the species tiger, lion, jaguar, and leopard on the basis of common cranial features. Results of genetic analysis indicate that the snow leopard also belongs to the Panthera, a classification that was accepted by IUCN Red List assessors in 2008.

Big cat larger felid species

The term "bigcat" is typically used to refer to any of the five living members of the genus Panthera, namely tiger, lion, jaguar, leopard, and snow leopard. Except the snow leopard, these species are able to roar. A more liberal and expansive definition of the term includes species outside of Panthera including the cougar, clouded leopard, Sunda clouded leopard, cheetah and sometimes the several lynx species, although these added species also do not roar.

<i>Felis</i> Genus of mammals (cats)

Felis is a genus of small and medium-sized cat species native to most of Africa and south of 60° latitude in Europe and Asia to Indochina. The genus includes the domestic cat. The smallest Felis species is the black-footed cat with a head and body length from 38 to 42 cm. The largest is the jungle cat with a head and body length from 62 to 76 cm.

A purr is a tonal fluttering sound made by some species of felids and two species of genets. It varies in loudness and tone among species and in the same animal. Felids are a family of mammals that belong to the order Carnivora and are informally known as cats. This designation includes larger, outdoor cats and the domestic cat. Genets are a member of the genus Genetta and are slim animals with features similar to cats. Their features include retractile claws and the ringed tail.

American cheetah genus of mammals

The American cheetah is either of two feline species of the extinct genus Miracinonyx, endemic to North America during the Pleistocene epoch and morphologically similar to the modern cheetah. These cats were originally known from fragments of skeletons, but nearly complete skeletons have been recovered from Natural Trap Cave in northern Wyoming.

Felinae subfamily of mammals

The Felinae are a subfamily of the family Felidae. This subfamily comprises the small cats having a bony hyoid, because of which they are able to purr but not roar.

<i>Leopardus</i> genus of mammals

Leopardus is a genus of spotted small cats mostly native to Middle and South America, with a very small range extending into the southern United States. The genus is considered the oldest branch of a lineage of small cats that crossed into the Americas, with the genera Lynx and Puma being later branches of the same group. The largest species in Leopardus is the ocelot ; most of the other species resemble domestic cats in size, with the kodkod being the smallest cat in the Americas. The margay is more highly adapted to arboreal life than any other cat in the Americas.

Pantherinae subfamily of mammals

Pantherinae is a subfamily within the family Felidae, which was named and first described by Reginald Innes Pocock in 1917. The Pantherinae and the Felinae diverged from a common ancestor between 10.8 and 11.5 million years ago.

<i>Chasmaporthetes</i> genus of mammals (fossil)

Chasmaporthetes, also known as hunting or running hyena, is an extinct genus of hyenas distributed in Eurasia, North America, and Africa during the Pliocene-Pleistocene epochs, living from 4.9 million to 780,000 years ago, existing for about 4.12 million years . The genus probably arose from Eurasian Miocene hyenas such as Thalassictis or Lycyaena, with C. borissiaki being the oldest known representative. The species C. ossifragus was the only hyena to cross the Bering land bridge into the Americas, and ranged over what is now Arizona and Mexico during Blancan and early Irvingtonian Land Mammal ages, between 5.0 and 1.5 million years ago.

African wild ass species of mammal

The African wild donkey or African wild ass is a wild member of the horse family, Equidae. This species is believed to be the ancestor of the domestic donkey, which is usually placed within the same species. They live in the deserts and other arid areas of the Horn of Africa, in Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia. It formerly had a wider range north and west into Sudan, Egypt, and Libya. About 570 individuals exist in the wild.

Asiatic cheetah The only living cheetah subspecies outside of Africa

The Asiatic cheetah, also known as Iranian cheetah, is a Critically Endangered cheetah subspecies surviving today only in Iran. It once occurred from the Arabian Peninsula and the Near East to the Caspian region, Kyzylkum Desert and India, but has been extirpated there during the 20th century.

Northwest African cheetah subspecies of the cheetah

The Northwest African cheetah, also known as the Saharan cheetah, is a cheetah subspecies native to the Sahara and the Sahel. It is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. In 2008, the population was suspected to number less than 250 mature individuals.

<i>Acinonyx kurteni</i> species of mammal (fossil)

"Acinonyx kurteni", or the Linxia cheetah, is a discredited fossil specimen of an extinct cheetah discovered in China. The scientific name was assigned for the skull that was originally described to be that of an extinct species of cheetah, endemic to Asia during the Late Pliocene sub-epoch. It was estimated to have lived around 2.2 to 2.5 Ma BP, existing for approximately 0.3 million years .

Deng Tao is a Chinese palaeontologist at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP), Chinese Academy of Sciences, who has made important fossil discoveries on Cenozoic mammals. He is a professor of vertebrate palaeontology, Deputy Director of the Academic Committee, and Deputy Director of Key Laboratory of Evolutionary Systematics of Vertebrates at IVPP.

East African cheetah subspecies of cheetah

The East African cheetah, is a cheetah population in East Africa. It lives in grasslands and savannas of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Somalia. The cheetah inhabits mainly the Serengeti ecosystem, including Maasai Mara, and the Tsavo landscape.

Northeast African cheetah Subspecies of the cheetah

The Northeast African cheetah is a cheetah subspecies occurring in Northeast Africa. Contemporary records are known in South Sudan and Ethiopia, but population status in Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and Sudan is unknown.

Southeast African cheetah subspecies of cheetah

The Southeast African cheetah is the nominate cheetah subspecies native to East and Southern Africa. The Southern African cheetah lives mainly in the lowland areas and deserts of the Kalahari, the savannahs of Okavango Delta, and the grasslands of the Transvaal region in South Africa. In Namibia, cheetahs are mostly found in farmlands.

Acinonychini tribe of mammals

The feline tribe Acinonychini contains three genera, each with one extant species: the cougar in Puma, the jaguarundi in Herpailurus, and the cheetah in Acinonyx.


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