American Cheetah
Range North America
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Carnivora
Family Felidae
Genus Miracinonyx
Conservation Status
American Cheetah (Miracinonyx) is an extinct genus of cheetahs. They lived in North America approximately 2.6 to 12,000 years ago.


Although these cheetahs are only known from parts of skeletons that have been found, they were morphologically similar to modern cheetahs. American cheetahs were larger than modern cheetahs, weighing approximately 150 pounds and being 67 inches long with a tail around 36 inches long.


There are two known species of American cheetahs; M. inexpectatus and M. trumani.

M. inexpectatus

This species of American cheetah was more similar to cougars than modern cheetahs. Their claws were retractable and was most likely faster than cougars.

M. trumani

This species of American cheetah were the most similar to modern cheetahs. They lived in the plains of western America and most likely fed on hooved animals. M. trumani is thought to be the reason that pronghorns evolved to be so swift.


Originally, American cheetahs were thought to be early species of cougar but were classified as more cheetah-like in the 1970s. This made people think that cheetahs evolved from the Puma line while in the Americas but migrated back to Africa. However, some research suggests that the American cheetah evolved to have cheetah-like characteristics through a phenomena called convergent evolution, which is when two species of animals with different lineages develop similar features that make them seem like they are closely related.

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