Morphological Variability and Asymmetry in the Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), a Genetically Uniform Species
The African cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is an unusual species because of its extremely low amount of biochemical genetic variation. A comparative analysis of morphological variation of 16 cranial characters from four species of Felidae (ocelot, Leopardus pardalus; margay, L. wiedii; leopard, Panthera pardus; and cheetah) was undertaken to evaluate the consequence of biochemical monomorphism on morphological variation. The species were selected because the cheetah has been shown previously to possess extremely low amounts of biochemical genetic variation as opposed to the other three species which retain comparatively high levels of allozyme heterozygosity. The cheetah sample showed dramatically greater fluctuating asymmetry but was not outstanding in morphological variability. Elevated levels of fluctuating asymmetry have been interpreted as a reflection of developmental instability, which is a common consequence of inbreeding. The inverse correlation of genetic variation and developmental stability (homeostasis) observed here fulfills prior expectations and further emphasizes the genetic invariability of the cheetah species.
Wayne, Robert K.; William Modi; and Stephen J. O'Brien. 1986. "Morphological Variability and Asymmetry in the Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), a Genetically Uniform Species." Evolution 40, (1): 78-85. https://nsuworks.nova.edu/cnso_bio_facarticles/165