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DescriptionThe fastest land mammal in the world, the cheetah has many adaptations that allow it to sprint across the plains; the rangy frame supports long limbs and a deep chest cavity together with a small waist and extremely flexible spine (3). Unlike other cats, the claws are not retractable providing further grip on the ground. The large nostrils allow greater amounts of air to enter the lungs and the tail is particularly long to provide extra balance when cornering (3). The coat is a yellowish colour with black spots (5) and a paler, whitish underbelly (3). Genetic colour morphs with large, blotchy markings that can merge into stripes occasionally appear in the population; these 'king cheetahs' as they are known were once considered to be a distinct species (6). The small head has high-set eyes and small, flattened ears (2) and is instantly recognisable by the black tear lines running from the corners of the eyes to the muzzle (3). Cubs have a 'mane' of tufty pale hair on the back of their neck, which sticks upright (2).