What does Acinonyx jubatus mean?

Cheetah running and turning using its claws for grip. Photo in the public domain.

Acinonyx Jubatus is the Latin, scientific name of the cheetah. Acinonyx is the generic name for the cheetah and jubatus describes the species. This is taxonomy, the classification of the species. The orgin of the word "Acinonyx" is probably a reference to the unsheathed claws of the cheetah to aid fast running and turning. A derivative of "akaina" meaning thorn and "onyx" meaning claw. Together they make: thorn-claw meaning visible claws as opposed to sheathed claws as in the domestic cat. Click for how to pronounce the Acinonyx jubatus.

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