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Cheetah
Gottagofast.jpg
General Information
Universe Real Life
Aliases Greyhounds of the desert
Classification Acinonyx jubatus
Species Type Big Cat
Homeworld Earth
Intelligence Non-Sapient
Biochemistry Carbon-based
Biological Information
Lifespan Wild: 12 years
Captivity: 17-20 years
Reproduction Sexual; give live birth
Average Height 67–94 cm (26–37 in) at the shoulder
Average Weight 21 and 72 kg (46 and 159 lb)
Average Length Head-body: 1.1 and 1.5 m (3 ft 7 in and 4 ft 11 in)
Locomotion Quadrupedal
Feeding Behavior Carnivorous
Prey Springbok
Steenbok
Duiker
Impala
Gazelle
Warthog
Hartebeest
Oryx
Roan
Sable
Game birds
Rabbits
Predators Lion
Leopard
Hyena
Humans (illegally)
Lineage Information
Cultural Information
Organization Solitary
Sociocultral characteristics
Scientific Taxonomy
Planet Earth
Domain Eukaryota
Kingdom Animalia
Subkingdom Eumetazoa
Infrakingdom Bilateria
Superphylum Deuterostomia
Phylum Chordata
Subphylum Vertebrata
Infraphylum Gnathostomata
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Mammalia
Subclass Theria
Infraclass Placentalia
Superorder Laurasiatheria
Order Carnivora
Suborder Feliformia
Family Felidae
Subfamily Felinae
Genus Acinonyx
Species A. jubatus
Other Information
Status Vulnerable
Creator God (debated)

The Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is the fastest land animal on Earth.

Biology[]

The cheetah is a lightly built, spotted cat characterised by a small rounded head, a short snout, black tear-like facial streaks, a deep chest, long thin legs and a long tail. Its slender, canine-like form is highly adapted for speed, and contrasts sharply with the robust build of the genus Panthera. 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 (3 ft 7 in and 4 ft 11 in). The weight can vary with age, health, location, sex and subspecies; adults typically range between 21 and 72 kg (46 and 159 lb). Cubs born in the wild weigh 150–300 g (5.3–10.6 oz) at birth, while those born in captivity tend to be larger and weigh around 500 g (18 oz). Cheetahs are sexually dimorphic, with males larger and heavier than females, but not to the extent seen in other large cats. Studies differ significantly on morphological variations among the subspecies.

The coat is typically tawny to creamy white or pale buff (darker in the mid-back portion). The chin, throat and underparts of the legs and the belly are white and devoid of markings. The rest of the body is covered with around 2,000 evenly spaced, oval or round solid black spots, each measuring roughly 3–5 cm (1.2–2.0 in). Each cheetah has a distinct pattern of spots which can be used to identify unique individuals. Besides the clearly visible spots, there are other faint, irregular black marks on the coat. Newly born cubs are covered in fur with an unclear pattern of spots that gives them a dark appearance—pale white above and nearly black on the underside. The hair is mostly short and often coarse, but the chest and the belly are covered in soft fur; the fur of king cheetahs has been reported to be silky. There is a short, rough mane, covering at least 8 cm (3.1 in) along the neck and the shoulders; this feature is more prominent in males. The mane starts out as a cape of long, loose blue to grey hair in juveniles. Melanistic cheetahs are rare and have been seen in Zambia and Zimbabwe. In 1877–1878, Sclater described two partially albino specimens from South Africa.

The head is small and more rounded compared to the big cats. Saharan cheetahs have canine-like slim faces. The ears are small, short and rounded; they are tawny at the base and on the edges and marked with black patches on the back. The eyes are set high and have round pupils. The whiskers, shorter and fewer than those of other felids, are fine and inconspicuous. The pronounced tear streaks (or malar stripes), unique to the cheetah, originate from the corners of the eyes and run down the nose to the mouth. The role of these streaks is not well understood—they may protect the eyes from the sun's glare (a helpful feature as the cheetah hunts mainly during the day), or they could be used to define facial expressions.The exceptionally long and muscular tail, with a bushy white tuft at the end, measures 60–80 cm (24–31 in). While the first two-thirds of the tail are covered in spots, the final third is marked with four to six dark rings or stripes.

The cheetah is superficially similar to the leopard, but the leopard has rosettes instead of spots and lacks tear streaks. Moreover, the cheetah is slightly taller than the leopard. The serval resembles the cheetah in physical build, but is significantly smaller, has a shorter tail and its spots fuse to form stripes on the back. The cheetah appears to have evolved convergently with canids in morphology and behaviour; it has canine-like features such as a relatively long snout, long legs, a deep chest, tough paw pads and blunt, semi-retractable claws. The cheetah has often been likened to the greyhound, as both have similar morphology and the ability to reach tremendous speeds in a shorter time than other mammals, but the cheetah can attain higher maximum speeds.

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