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Colin says: Scientists classify the cheetah in its own genus because of its physical distinctiveness from other cats, although genetic studies suggest that the cheetah may share a common ancestor with the North American puma. Fossil evidence shows that cheetahs may have originated in North America as early as 3 million years ago and then spread into Eurasia and Africa. Scientists theorize that around 12,000 years ago a significant climate change caused a rapid decline in the cheetah population, with only a small group of cheetahs surviving in Eurasia.
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