A cheetah at the Wild
Animal Park.Cheetahs are found in the wild only in Africa, but
in the past their range extended into northern India and the Iranian
plateau, where they were domesticated by aristocrats and used
to hunt antelopes in much the same way as is still done with members
of the greyhound family. The cheetah prefers to live in an open
biotope, such as semi-desert, prairie, and thick brush.
unusually low genetic variability and high abnormal sperm count.
It is thought that they went through a prolonged period of inbreeding
following a genetic bottleneck during the last ice age. They probably
evolved in Africa during the Miocene epoch (26 million to 7.5
million years ago), before migrating to Asia. Now extinct species
include: Acinonyx pardinensis (Pliocene epoch), much larger than
modern cheetahs and found in Europe, India, and China; Acinonyx
intermedius (mid-Pleistocene period), found over the same range;
and Miracinonyx inexpectatus, Miracinonyx studeri, and Miracinonyx
trumani (early to late Pleistocene epoch), found in North America.
Images 1 Through 5 Are From The US Fish & Wildlife Service
Images 5 Through 20 Are Courtesy Of Schmode.net
Images 21 Through 024 Are Courtesy Of Scotch Macaskill