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(Acinonyx jubatus) is a large felid of the subfamily Felinae that occurs mainly in eastern and southern Africa and a few parts of Iran.
The only extant member of the genus Acinonyx, the cheetah was first described by Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber in 1775.
The cheetah is characterised by a slender body, deep chest, spotted coat, a small rounded head, black tear-like streaks on the face, long thin legs and a long spotted tail.
Its lightly built, slender form is in sharp contrast with the robust build of the big cats, making it more similar to the cougar.
Although the cheetah is an African cat, molecular evidence indicates that the three species of the Puma lineage evolved in North America two to three million years ago, where they possibly had a common ancestor during the Miocene.
A rough translation of the word would be "non-moving claws", a reference to the limited retractability (capability of being drawn inside the paw) of the claws of the cheetah relative to other cats'.
The specific name jubatus means "maned" in Latin, referring to the dorsal crest of this animal.
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.