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]

Temporal range: Pliocene - Holocene, 3–0 Ma
Cheetah Botswana
Cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Felidae
Subfamily: Felinae
Tribe: Acinonychini
Genus: Acinonyx
Brookes, 1828
  • Cynailurus Wagner, 1830
  • Cynofelis Lesson, 1842
  • Guepar Boitard, 1842
  • Gueparda Gray, 1843
  • Guepardus Duvernoy, 1834
  • Paracinonyx Kretzoi, 1929


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:

  • A. pardinensis the giant cheetah — by Croizet et Jobert in 1828[9]
  • A. intermedius — by Thenius in 1954[10]
  • A. aicha — by Geraads in 1997[11]
  • A. kurteni" — by Christiansen and Mazák in 2009[12]

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


  1. ^ a b c Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Genus Acinonyx". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 532–533. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  2. ^ a b Krausman, P. R. & Morales, S. M. (2005). "Acinonyx jubatus" (PDF). Mammalian Species. 771: 1–6. doi:10.1644/1545-1410(2005)771[0001:aj];2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-07-03. Retrieved 2015-07-02.
  3. ^ Hemmer, H.; Kahlke, R.-D.; Keller, T. (2008). "Cheetahs in the Middle Pleistocene of Europe: Acinonyx pardinensis (sensu lato) intermedius (Thenius, 1954) from the Mosbach Sands (Wiesbaden, Hessen, Germany)". Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie, Abhandlungen. 249: 345–356. doi:10.1127/0077-7749/2008/0249-0345.
  4. ^ Brookes, J. (1828). "Section Carnivora". A catalogue of the Anatomical and Zoological Museum of Joshua Brookes. London: Richard Taylor. p. 16.
  5. ^ Schreber, J. C. D. (1777). "Der Gepard". Die Säugthiere in Abbildungen nach der Natur mit Beschreibungen (Dritter Theil). Erlangen: Wolfgang Walther. pp. 392−393.
  6. ^ Griffith, E. (1821). "Felis venatica". General and particular descriptions of the vertebrated animals, arranged conformably to the modern discoveries and improvements in zoology. Order Carnivora. London: Baldwin, Cradock and Joy.
  7. ^ Fitzinger, L. (1855). "Bericht an die kaiserliche Akademie der Wissenchaften über die von dem Herrn Consultatsverweser Dr. Theodor v. Heuglin für die kaiserliche Menagerie zu Schönbrunn mitgebrachten lebenden Thiere". Sitzungsberichte der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Classe. 17: 242−253.
  8. ^ Hilzheimer, M. (1913). "Über neue Gepparden nebst Bemerkungen über die Nomenklatur dieser Tiere". Sitzungsberichte der Gesellschaft Naturforschender Freunde zu Berlin (5): 283−292.
  9. ^ Croizet, J. B. et Jobert, A. C. G. (1862). Recherches sur les ossemens fossiles du département du Puy-de-Dôme. Paris: Chez les principaux libraires.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  10. ^ Thenius, E. (1954). "Gepardreste aus dem Altquartär von Hundsheim in Niederösterreich". Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie, Monatshefte: 225–238.
  11. ^ Geraads, D. (1997). "Carnivores du Pliocène terminalde Ahl al Oughlam (Casablanca, Maroc)" (PDF). Geobios. 30 (1): 127–164. doi:10.1016/s0016-6995(97)80263-x.
  12. ^ Christiansen, P.; Mazák, J. H. (2009). "A primitive Late Pliocene cheetah, and evolution of the cheetah lineage". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 106 (2): 512–515. doi:10.1073/pnas.0810435106. PMC 2626734. PMID 19114651.
  13. ^ Knevitt, O. (2011). "Five Greatest Palaeontology Fakes Of All Time #5: The Linxia Cheetah". Science 2.0. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  14. ^ Mazák, J. H. (2012). "Retraction for Christiansen and Mazák. A primitive Late Pliocene cheetah, and evolution of the cheetah lineage". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 109 (37): 15072. doi:10.1073/pnas.1211510109. PMC 3443189. PMID 22908293.

External links


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.In addition, a handful of extinct fossil species have been found in Eurasia and the Americas. The evolutionary relationships of these cats still needs to be worked out, with the main focus being the placement of the extinct species in relation to the extant species, and where cheetahs evolved. While cheetahs and cougars are sometimes considered big cats, as felines, they are more closely related to domestic cats than they are to pantherines such as lions and leopards.

Acinonyx kurteni

"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.The fossil discovery was reported in 2008, and was claimed to be the most primitive Acinonyx lineage so far discovered. Further, the study concluded that the cheetahs originated in the Old World, not the New World as previously believed. It was thought to share some features with the modern cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus, such as in having enlarged sinuses for air intake during sprinting, while its teeth show primitive features.After a long suspicion of the authenticity of the fossil, it was finally accepted as a forgery in 2012.

Acinonyx pardinensis

The giant cheetah (Acinonyx pardinensis) is an extinct felid species that was closely related to the modern cheetah.

African cheetah

The term African cheetah refers to any of the following cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) subspecies native to Africa:

East-Southern African cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus jubatus)

Northeast African cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus soemmeringii)

Northwest African cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus hecki)

American cheetah

The American cheetah is either of two feline species of the extinct genus Miracinonyx, endemic to North America during the Pleistocene epoch (2.6 million to 12,000 years ago) and morphologically similar to the modern cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus). These cats were originally known from fragments of skeletons, but nearly complete skeletons have been recovered from Natural Trap Cave in northern Wyoming.The two species commonly identified are M. inexpectatus and M. trumani. Sometimes, a third species, M. studeri, is included, but it is more often listed as a junior synonym of M. trumani. Both species are similar to the modern cheetah, with faces shortened and nasal cavities expanded for increased oxygen capacity, and legs proportioned for swift running. However, these similarities may not be inherited from a common ancestor, but may instead result from either parallel or convergent evolution. These were larger than a modern cheetah and similar in size to a modern northern cougar. Body mass was typically around 70 kg (150 lb), with a head-and-body length of 170 cm (67 in), tail length around 92 cm (36 in), and shoulder height of 85 cm (33 in). Large specimens could have weighed more than 95 kg (209 lb).

Asiatic cheetah

The Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus), also known as Iranian or Persian 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, Pakistan and India, but has been extirpated there during the 20th century.The Asiatic cheetah survives in protected areas in the eastern-central arid region of Iran, where the human population density is very low. Between December 2011 and November 2013, 84 individuals were sighted in 14 different protected areas, and 82 individuals were identified from camera trap photographs.

As of December 2017, fewer than 50 individuals are thought to be remaining in three subpopulations that are scattered over 140,000 km2 (54,000 sq mi) in Iran’s central plateau.

In order to raise international awareness for the conservation of the Asiatic cheetah, an illustration was used on the jerseys of the Iran national football team at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.The Asiatic cheetah diverged from the cheetah population in Africa between 32,000 and 67,000 years ago. During the British colonial times in India, it was called hunting leopard, a name derived from the ones that were kept in captivity in large numbers by Indian royalty to use for hunting wild antelopes.


The cheetah (; Acinonyx jubatus) is a large cat of the subfamily Felinae that occurs in North, Southern and East Africa, and a few localities in Iran. It inhabits a variety of mostly arid habitats like dry forests, scrub forests, and savannahs. The species is IUCN Red Listed as Vulnerable, as it suffered a substantial decline in its historic range in the 20th century due to habitat loss, poaching for the illegal pet trade, and conflict with humans. By 2016, the global cheetah population has been estimated at approximately 7,100 individuals in the wild. Several African countries have taken steps to improve cheetah conservation measures.The cheetah was formally described by Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber in 1775 and is the only extant member of the genus Acinonyx. Its yellowish tan or rufous to greyish white coat is uniformly covered with nearly 2,000 solid black spots. Its body is slender with a small rounded head, black tear-like streaks on the face, deep chest, long thin legs and long spotted tail. African cheetahs may achieve successful hunts only running up to a speed of 64 km/h (40 mph) while hunting due to their exceptional ability to accelerate; but are capable accelerating up to 112 km/h (70 mph) on short distances of 100 m (330 ft). It is therefore the fastest land animal. It reaches 70–90 cm (28–35 in) at the shoulder, and weighs 21–72 kg (46–159 lb). Its lightly built, slender form is in sharp contrast with the robust build of the Panthera cats. It is taller than the leopard (P. pardus), and notably smaller than the lion (P. leo).

The cheetah is active mainly during the day, with hunting its major activity. Adult males are sociable despite their territoriality, forming groups called coalitions. Females are not territorial; they may be solitary or live with their offspring in home ranges. It is a carnivores and preys mainly upon antelopes and gazelles. It stalks its prey to within 100–300 m (330–980 ft), charge towards it and kill it by tripping it during the chase and biting its throat to suffocate it to death.

It breeds throughout the year, and is an induced ovulator. Gestation lasts nearly three months, resulting in a litter of typically three to five, in rare cases up to eight cubs. They are weaned at the age of about six months. After siblings become independent from their mother, they usually stay together for some time.

Because of its prowess at hunting, the cheetah has been tamed already in the 16th century BC in Egypt and used to kill game at hunts. It has been widely depicted in art, literature, advertising and animation.

East African cheetah

The East African cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus jubatus), 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.

A cheetah from British East Africa was described by the American zoologist Edmund Heller in 1913. He proposed the trinomen Felis jubatus raineyi as a distinct subspecies. It also was recognized as several other distinct subspecies, such as A. j. ngorongorensis and A. j. velox. In 2017, the Cat Classification Task Force of the Cat Specialist Group subsumed A. j. raineyi to A. j. jubatus.In 2007, the total number of cheetahs in East Africa were estimated at 1,960 to 2,572 adults and independent adolescents. East African cheetahs form the second-largest population after the Southern African cheetah. In 2007, there were between 569 and 1,007 cheetahs in Tanzania, between 710 and 793 cheetahs in Kenya, between 40 and 295 cheetahs in Uganda and approximately 200 left in Somalia. Kenya is the main stronghold for the East African cheetah, with the largest population of 800 to 1,200 adults in the country since 2015. In 2016, it was estimated that more than 1,000 individuals are resident in the Serengeti/Maasai Mara ecosystem of Tanzania and Kenya.Formerly widespread in East Africa, the East African cheetah lost a high percent of ranges and has gone extinct in three countries; the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (the North Kivu province and the South Kivu province), Rwanda and Burundi.

Endangered mammals of India

In India there are 410 species, 186 genera, 45 families and 13 orders of which nearly 89 species are listed as threatened in the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Animals (IUCN 2006). This includes two species that are locally extinct from India viz. Acinonyx jubatus and Rhinoceros sondaicus.

The mammals are the class of vertebrate animals characterized by the presence of mammary glands, which in females produce milk for the nourishment of young; the presence of hair or fur; specialized teeth; the presence of a neocortex region in the brain; and endothermic or "warm-blooded" bodies. The brain regulates endothermic and circulatory system, including a four-chambered heart. Mammals encompass some 5,500 species (including Humans), distributed in about 1,200 genera, 152 families and up to 46 orders, though this varies with the classification scheme.


The Felinae is a subfamily of the family Felidae that comprises the small cats that have a bony hyoid, because of which they are able to purr but not roar.Other authors proposed an alternative definition for this subfamily: as comprising only the living conical-toothed cat genera with two tribes, the Felini and Pantherini; thus excluding all fossil cat species.

Natica acinonyx

Natica acinonyx is a species of predatory sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Naticidae, the moon snails.

Northeast African cheetah

The Northeast African cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus soemmeringii) 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.It was first described under the scientific name Cynailurus soemmeringii by the Austrian zoologist Leopold Fitzinger in 1855 on the basis of a specimen from Sudan’s Bayuda Desert brought to the Tiergarten Schönbrunn in Vienna. It is also known as Sudan cheetah.In the 1970s, the cheetah population in Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia was roughly estimated at 1,150 to 4,500 individuals. In 2007, it was estimated that 950 individuals live inside protected areas in this region; the number of individuals living outside protected areas is unknown.This subspecies is more closely related to the Southern African cheetah than to Saharan cheetah populations. Results of a phylogeographic analysis indicate that the two subspecies diverged between 16,000 and 72,000 years ago.

Northwest African cheetah

The Northwest African cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus hecki), also known as the Saharan cheetah, is a cheetah subspecies native to the Sahara desert 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.The Northwest African cheetah was described by German zoologist Max Hilzheimer in 1913 under the scientific name Acinonyx hecki.


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.

Although true purring is exclusive to felids and viverrids, other animals such as raccoons produce purr-like vocalization. Animals that produce purr-like sounds include mongoose, bears, badgers, foxes, hyaenas, rabbits, squirrels, guinea pigs, tapirs, ring-tailed lemurs, and gorillas while eating.

Southeast African cheetah

The Southeast African cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus jubatus) 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.The Southern African cheetah was first described by the German zoologist Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber in 1775 and named Felis jubatus on the basis of a specimen from the Cape of Good Hope. Subpopulations have been called "South African cheetah" and "Namibian cheetah."

Wildlife of Iran

The wildlife of Iran has first been partly described by Hamdallah Mustawfi in the 14th century who only referred to animals. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Samuel Gottlieb Gmelin and Édouard Ménétries explored the Caspian Sea area and the Talysh Mountains to document Caspian fauna. Several naturalists followed in the 19th century, including Filippo de Filippi, William Thomas Blanford and Nikolai Zarudny who documented mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and fish species.One of the most famous wildlife of Iran is the critically endangered Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus), which today survives only in Iran.

Wildlife of Kenya

The wildlife of Kenya refers to its fauna. The diversity of Kenya's wildlife has garnered international fame, especially for its populations of large mammals. Mammal species include lion (Panthera leo), cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius), African buffalo (Syncerus caffer), wildebeest (Connochaetes), African elephant (Loxodonta), zebra ( Hippotigris), giraffe (Giraffa), and rhinoceros. Kenya has a very diverse population of birds, including flamingo and ostrich (Struthio camelus) It is not confined to the parks, pens, and reserves, although there is normally more abundance in such areas. There are many safaris held in Kenya, mostly in the reserves.

Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve

The Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve is a 3,000-acre (12 km2) breeding and reacclimation center administered by the Israel Nature Reserves & National Parks Authority, situated in the Southern Arabah near Yotvata.

The Yotvata Hai-Bar is the desert counterpart of the Carmel Hai-Bar Nature Reserve which operates in the country's Northern Mediterranean forest.

Endangered and locally extinct animals mentioned in the Bible are bred here for possible reintroduction to the Negev desert. The Asian wild ass has already been reintroduced in the Makhtesh Ramon into the wild. In addition the park has some rare desert animals, which are not native to Israel, like the scimitar oryx and the Red-necked ostrich from northern Africa.

Some of the species bred here are:

Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx)

Scimitar oryx (Oryx dammah)

Red-necked ostrich (Struthio camelus camelus)

Addax (Addax nasomaculatus)

Asian wild ass (hybrids of Equus hemionus kulan and Equus hemionus onager)

Somali wild ass (Equus africanus somaliensis)

Caracal (Caracal caracal schmitzi)

Arabian sand cat (Felis margarita harrisoni)

Arabian leopard (Panthera pardus nimr)

South African cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus jubatus)

Arabian wolf (Canis lupus arabs)

Dorcas gazelle (Gazella dorcas)

Griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus)

Nubian ibex (Capra nubiana)

Persian leopard (Panthera pardus ciscaucasica)

Striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena)

Extant Carnivora species

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