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Temporal range: Pliocene - Holocene, 3–0 Ma
Cheetah Botswana.jpg
Cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Felidae
Subfamily: Felinae
Genus: Acinonyx
Brookes, 1828

Cynailurus Wagner, 1830
Cynofelis Lesson, 1842
Guepar Boitard, 1842
Gueparda Gray, 1843
Guepardus Duvernoy, 1834
Paracinonyx Kretzoi, 1929

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

Historical range[edit]

Only one species of Acinonyx is currently living: A. jubatus, the cheetah. Several other species of cheetah-like cats have existed since the late Pliocene epoch but have become extinct.[3] These cats occupied not only Africa, but parts of Europe and Asia as recently as 10,000 years ago. Several similar species, classified in the genus Miracinonyx, lived in North America at the same time; however, these may have been more closely related to pumas.[4]


Acinonyx was first described by Brookes in 1828. In 1993, it was placed in a monophyletic subfamily, Acinonychinae, and is considered a close sister group of the genus Puma.[1]


Several fossil Acinonyx species in addition to the living cheetah have been described:

  • Acinonyx jubatus — by Schreber in 1775[5]
  • Acinonyx pardinensis , the giant cheetah — by Croizet et Jobert in 1828[6]
  • Acinonyx intermedius — by Thenius in 1954[7]
  • Acinonyx aicha — by Geraads in 1997[8]
  • "Acinonyx kurteni" — by Christiansen and Mazák in 2008[9] The "Linxia Cheetah" was originally described from 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.[10][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". 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. ^ Krausman, P. R. and Morales, S. M. (2005). Acinonyx jubatus. Mammalian Species 771: 1–6.
  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.
  4. ^ Krausman, P. R., & Morales, S. M. (2005). "Acinonyx jubatus." Mammalian Species, 1-6. [1]
  5. ^ Schreber, J. C. D. (1777). Die Säugthiere in Abbildungen nach der Natur mit Beschreibungen 1776-1778. Wolfgang Walther, Erlangen
  6. ^ Croizet, J. B. et Jobert, A. C. G. (1862). Recherches sur les ossemens fossiles du département du Puy-de-Dôme. Chez les principaux libraires, Paris
  7. ^ Thenius, E. (1954). Gepardreste aus dem Altquartär von Hundsheim in Niederösterreich. Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie, Monatshefte: 225–238.
  8. ^ Geraads, D. (1997). Carnivores du Pliocène terminalde Ahl al Oughlam (Casablanca, Maroc). Geobios 30 (1): 127–164.
  9. ^ 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): 512–5. doi:10.1073/pnas.0810435106. PMC 2626734. PMID 19114651. 
  10. ^ Knevitt, Oliver (2011). "5 Greatest Palaeontology Fakes Of All Time #5: The Linxia Cheetah". Science 2.0. Retrieved January 2013. 
  11. ^ 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. PMID 22908293. 

External links[edit]