Additionally, carnivores in general exhibit significantly lower levels of genetic variation than other mammals do, and several carnivore species for which data are available, exhibit lower levels of heterozygosity and polymorphism than cheetahs do. Enhancing zona penetration by spermatozoa from a teratospermic species, the cheetah (, 271(4), pp.323-330. Reproductive history and absence of predators are important determinants of reproductive fitness: the cheetah controversy revisited.
There is speculation though that this limited genetic variation may be responsible for the perceived vulnerability of cheetahs in captivity and in the wild. Wachter, B., Thalwitzer, S., Hofer, H., Lonzer, J., Hildebrandt, T.
They are well known, with the exception of the dew claw (the first digit which is also retractile), for having blunt, only slightly curved, partly retractile claws, considered to be an adaptation for high-speed locomotion.
Some of the morphological differences in the middle phalanges of the cheetah’s front feet can be associated with its distinctive hunting behaviour (see below). Cryopreservation of spermatozoa from wild-born Namibian cheetahs (, 52(2), 169-181.
This is considered a form of crypsis (crypsis is the use of anatomy and behaviour to hide from potential predators. Captive breeding of cheetahs in south Africa – 30 years of data from the de Wildt cheetah and wildlife centre.
Cryptic animals are often otherwise palatable to their predators so would never survive if obvious).
Where the genetic diversity has been assessed, measures of genetic variation are similar in cheetahs in all regions of Namibia and they are comparable to Eastern African cheetah populations.
In the small and fragmented South African populations, genetic analyses indicate that cheetahs on reserves would not benefit from cross-breeding with the free-roamers but that the free-roamers would benefit. Physical characteristics Male and female Cheetahs are tall and slender animals, with their bodies high off the ground and with long thin legs. Their long tails that may have circular black markings, are distinctive. Cheetahs, one of the bigger free-living cats but at the bottom of the pecking order, are unique animals under threat of extinction because of the increasing loss of their habitat and access to prey species. They generally appear to have a very limited genetic pool and this genetic uniformity is believed to be the result of at least two population bottlenecks followed by natural inbreeding. The first and most extreme bottleneck possibly occurred in the late Pleistocene (circa 10,000 years ago), while the second was more recent (within the last century) and led to the development of the current South African populations.