Cheetahs are not true cats! True or False?

Duma sio paka wa kweli! Kweli/Uongo?

This is a common question I get asked when I’m conducting guide training. The answer is FALSE. Cheetahs ARE true cats. They are just highly specialized cats. If we take the relative relationships of the cats and filter out the cats that are not found in East Africa, the cheetah is most closely related to the African wild cat (by 6.7 million years). The African wild cat is the ancestor of our domesticated cats, which means cheetahs are actually more closely related to our domesticated cats than any of the other cats. They in turn are next most closely related to the Caracal lineage which includes servals and the golden cat. That lineage split about 8.5 million years ago. The Panthera genus is the furthest related to the other cats having split about 10.8 million years ago.

You can see it on this diagram that shows the relationships between the different cats found in Africa, based on their DNA. The second diagram shows all the cat species in the world and how they are related.

A simplified family tree of Africa’s cats.
This diagram taken from Kingdon, J & Hoffman, M. 2013. Mammals of Africa, Volume V, Carnivores, Pangolins, Equids & Rhinoceroses. Bloomsbury. pg 145.
The full family tree of the world’s cats.
Taken from Nyamaguchi, N. 2010. Phylogeny & Evolution of Cats.

Swahili version

Hua ninaulizwa hii swali mara kwa mara nikiwa kwenye mafunzo ya ‘guide training’. Jibu ni ‘Uongo’. Duma ni paka halisi. Ni paka mwenye sifa ya pekee. Tukiangalia ukoo wa familia ya paka na kutoa paka wasiopatikana Afrika Mashariki, duma ana uhusiano wa karibu na paka mwitu (African wild cat). Paka mwitu ni mzazi wa kale wa paka tunayemfuga leo, na inamaanisha kua duma na paka wa nyumbani wanauhusuiano ziadi kuliko uhusiano wao na paka wengine. Wao nao wana uhusiano wa karibu na kizazi cha simba mangu (caracal) kinacho unganisha ‘mondo’ na ‘golden cat’. Ukoo huo uliachana takribani ya miaka milioni minane na nusu iliyopita. Jamii ya Panthera ni jenasi yenye uhusiano mbali kuliko zingine ikiwa imeachana na ukoo wa paka wengine takribani ya miaka milioni 10.8 iliyopita.

Unaweza kuona uhusiano kwa kupima DNA ya paka wanaopatikana Afrika. Mchoro wa pili unaonyesha paka wote wanaopatikana duniani na uhusiano kati yao.

Chati ya ukoo ya paka wanaopatikana Afrika.
Imetolewa kwenye Kingdon, J & Hoffman, M. 2013. Mammals of Africa, Volume V, Carnivores, Pangolins, Equids & Rhinoceroses. Bloomsbury. pg 145.
Hii ni chati ya ukoo ya paka wote duniani.
Imetolewa hapa: Nyamaguchi, N. 2010. Phylogeny & Evolution of Cats

Sources:

Kingdon, J & Hoffman, M. 2013. Mammals of Africa, Volume V, Carnivores, Pangolins, Equids & Rhinoceroses. Bloomsbury

Yamaguchi, N & Werdelin, L. 2010. Phylogeny & Evolution of Cats. Biology & Conservation of Wild Felids.

6 replies

  1. Sorry mwalim I would like to know why most of the cats scratch down mostly before puping or shifting thenks…???

    Like

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