Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Origins of the domesticated cat

This was a great story I came across. It's about the origin of the domesticated cat. Like many of you, I was under the impression that it was Egypt that domesticated the cat but that notion is wrong.

The domesticated cat came from the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East about 130,000 years ago when wildcats moved into villages. Scientists have discovered five modern genetic lines to the wildcat species. It shows that domestication came from the cats wanting to be with humans. Humans used them for mice patrol; they did not hunt cats, but tolerated them. The work bolsters the notion that cats became useful to humans when agriculture started forcing people to protect grain stores from rodents.

As species go Wildcats are single Old World. And five subspecies lived in Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, China, Central Asia, and the Near East. So researchers collected genetic material from almost a thousand cats, both wild and domestic, from three continents. What they were able to find was that the common ancestors of all domesticated cats lived in the Near East some 130,000 years ago.

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