Morphology, physical condition, and growth of the cheetah

  • August 1, 2003
  • by Marker L. L., A.J. Dickman


Information regarding morphology of wild cheetahs is scant, and even where data exist they rarely were collected using a standardized methodology. We used a consistent technique to examine 241 wild Namibian cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus jubatus) to study morphology, sexual dimorphism, growth rates, and physical condition and to investigate how these data compared with those in previous studies. Significant sexual dimorphism was evident for all measurements. The majority of cheetahs were in excellent condition at the time of examination, although old cheetahs and those that had been held captive for more than a month were in significantly poorer condition. Both male and female cheetahs reached adult body mass at 49–96 months of age. These data differed significantly from those collected during other studies, although such differences may be due to variations in collection methodology. It is therefore vital to standardize morphometric data collection techniques so that the true extent of differences between populations can be assessed more accurately. A suggested standardized collection methodology is presented.

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