Showing posts with label cheetah appearance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cheetah appearance. Show all posts

Thursday 10 August 2023

What does Acinonyx mean?

Acinonyx is the first half of the Latin, scientific name for the cheetah. The full name is "Acinonyx jubatus". Because of its anatomical peculiarities, the cheetah is always placed alone in a separate genus, and sometimes even in a separate sub-family of the Felidae. 

Cheetah mom and cubs
Cheetah mom and cubs. Image: Pixabay.

According to Dr. Desmond Morris:

"There is no specific record as to why the cheetah was given this name in 1828, but it has been assumed that the word was derived from the Greek akaina and onux, meaning 'thorn-claw', referring to the fact that its feet are visible, unsheathed claws."

An alternative theory is that it may have been derived from the Greek a and kineo which means without movement. This is another reference to the cheetah's claws which are an exception within the cat family. 

Saying the word:

The claws not entirely unsheathed but they don't operate like a domestic cat's claws which are retracted and then protracted (extended). They remain out so that the cheetah can grip the ground firmly as they have to weave left and right and run at maximum speed to chase fast prey animals. The cheetah's claws remain visible hence the name.

The species name jubatus is from the Latin which means having a crest or mane. This is because cheetah cubs have a crest on the back of their heads and along the spine (see above) until it grows out when they become adults.

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