|Named By:||Adams in 1979|
|Time Period:||Late Pliocene to Late Pleistocene 2.6-0.011 Ma|
|Size:||Roughly 85 centimetres high at the shoulder|
|Fossil(s):||Many specimens are known, although usually of fragmentary remains|
|Classification:||| Chordata | Mammalia | Carnivora | Felidae ||
|Also known as:||| Miracinonyx studeri ||
The American cheetah is either of two feline species of the extinct genus Miracinonyx, endemic to North America during the Pleistocene epoch (2.6 Ma - 12,000 years ago) and morphologically similar to the modern cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus). These cats were originally known from fragments of skeletons, but nearly complete skeletons have been recovered from Natural Trap Cave in northern Wyoming.
The two species commonly identified are Miracinonyx inexpectatus and M. trumani. Sometimes a third species, M. studeri, is added to the list, but it is more often listed as a junior synonym of M. trumani. Both species are similar to the modern cheetah, with faces shortened and nasal cavities expanded for increased oxygen capacity, and legs proportioned for swift running. However, these similarities may not be inherited from a common ancestor, but may instead result from either parallel or convergent evolution. These were larger than a modern cheetah and similar in size to a modern northern cougar. Body mass was typically around 70 kg (150 lb), with a head-and-body length of 170 cm (67 in), tail length of around 92 cm (36 in) and a shoulder height of 85 cm (33 in). Large specimens could have weighed more than 95 kg (209 lb).