Wednesday, November 29, 2017

DNA found at archaeological site reveals the origin of our domestic cat
Article:  Ancient DNA reveals role of Near East and Egypt in cat domestication
Research done by: KU Lueven
Published: June 19, 2017
For the article click here.
Paleontologist Claudio Ottoni and his colleagues located DNA at an archaeological site in Near East, Africa, and Europe.  DNA analysis was done using bone, teeth, skin, and hair of more than 200 cats.  These cats were anywhere from 100 to 9,000 years old.  The analysis revealed that all domesticated cats descend from the African wildcat, Felis silvestris lybica.  Cats were domesticated 10,000 years ago by the first famers in Near East.  The wildcats kept the stocks of cereal grain free from vermin.  As animal and men grew closer, the behavior of certain wildcats was favored.  The selection based on this behavior led to the domestication of the wildcat.  As farmers migrated they brought the domesticated cat with them.  The cat therefore spread across Europe through trading in Egypt.  Egyptian trading ships used the domestic cat to rid the ship of vermin.  The domestic cat traveled to South West Asia, Africa, and Europe.  Remains of cat bones have been found at Viking sites near the Baltic Sea.  It is still unknown if the domestic cat descended from cats imported from Near East or if their was a second separate domestication that took place in Egypt.  The DNA of the hair confirmed that the domesticated cat was indeed striped, and the blotched pattern did not come about until the middle ages.

With DNA and the technology that is at our fingertips today, it is pretty crazy we are able to know what a wildcat looked like 10,000 years ago.  


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