Like living animals, fossil remains of once-living animals are classified and grouped according to their relationships to each other and to their ancestors.
Taxonomy of the American cheetah has been difficult
Cheetahs and pumas share many traits and have a close relationship, according to modern DNA studies (Barnett et al 2005)
Scientific name: Miracinonyx inexpectatus.
Cats of the cheetah-puma group diverged between 7.2 million years ago (Miocene) from the cat family, Felidae. (Johnson et al 2006)
Much discussion in literature about Old World vs New World origins for cheetahs and the relationship between modern cheetahs (Acinonyx) and the extinct American cheetah (Miracinonyx) (Christiansen & Mazak 2009)
Miracinonxy and Acinonyx had separate evolutionary histories for about the last 4 million years (Van Valkenburgh et al 1990)
Miracinonyx inexpectatus first appears between 3.2 and 2.5 million years ago (Pliocene) in Texas. (Van Valkenburgh et al 1990)
In equally old sediments, fossils of a true cheetah found recently in China (Christiansen 2009)
M. trumani occurs in younger sediments (Pleistocene) and doesn't overlap in time with M. inexpectatus
Miracinonyx became extinct with other Pleistocene megafauna around 12,000 years ago.
Modern cheetahs display a significant reduction (90-99%) in genetic variation compared to other felid species (Menotti-Raymond & O'Brien 1993)
Cheetahs, although present almost entirely in African grasslands and semi-deserts, until exterminated by humans existed also in Asia .
Genus: Miracinonyx - extinct
Species: Miracinonyx inexpectatus (Cope 1895) - American cheetah (extinct)
Species: Miracinonyx trumani - extinct
Barnett et al (2005)
Christiansen & Mazak (2009)
Menotti-Raymond & O'Brien (1993)
Valkenburgh et al (1990)
Johnson et al (2006)