Cheetah: 21 – 72 kg
Cheetah: 90 – 98 days
Cheetah: 66 – 94 cm
| Cheetah, Giant cheetah|
Acinonyx is a genus within the cat family. The only living species of this genus, the cheetah, A. jubatus, occurs and thrives in open grasslands of Africa and Asia. Though often described as a big cat, this term is used primarily to describe cats of the Panthera genus, ruling the cheetah out as a big cat.
Several other species of cheetah-like cats have existed since the late Pliocene epoch but have now become extinct. 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.
Acinonyx was first described by Brookes in 1828. In 1993, it was placed in a 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.
Several fossil Acinonyx species in addition to the living cheetah have been described:Acinonyx jubatus — by Schreber in 1775Acinonyx jubatus jubatus - by Schreber in 1775
Acinonyx jubatus raineyii - by Heller in 1913
Acinonyx jubatus soemmeringii - by Fitzinger in 1855
Acinonyx jubatus hecki - by Hilzheimer in 1913
Acinonyx jubatus venaticus - by Griffith in 1821
Acinonyx pardinensis †, the giant cheetah — by Croizet et Jobert in 1828
Acinonyx intermedius † — by Thenius in 1954
Acinonyx aicha † — by Geraads in 1997
"Acinonyx kurteni" — by Christiansen and Mazák in 2008 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.