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NatureGround >> Domestic cats= common ancestor


6/28/07 4:00 PM
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PatK
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Domestic cats have common ancestor

12,000-year-old feline history traced to Middle East

By Robert Mitchum
Tribune staff reporter
Published June 28, 2007, 2:21 PM CDT

Inside the cells of your pet cat lies a history book, a story that stretches back to when humans first settled into civilizations and discovered agriculture.

Using DNA from modern house cats, researchers have traced the origin of domestic cats to a specific time and region that coincided with the settlement of humans in the Middle East known as the Fertile Crescent.

The finding, to be published in Friday's edition of the journal Science, adds clarity to the evolutionary history of cats, a domestic animal unique in its persistent similarity to its wild ancestor. This ancestor was a particular species of wildcat native that still lives in the same region, which is now Israel.

"The evidence tells us that cats from throughout the entire world have a single common ancestor," said study author Carlos Driscoll.

Scientists have long debated whether cats were independently domesticated at several regions and points in time, or whether they were first kept as pets in one civilization before being spread around the world. The identification of a single ancestral species for modern house cats supports the single-origin theory.

When this domestication occurred remains cloudy. In 2004, French researchers found the remains of a cat buried with a human who died roughly 9,500 years ago on the island of Cyprus, where there are no native wildcat species.

This discovery placed the association between humans and cats much older in history than previously thought. Earlier theories speculated that Egyptians were responsible for cat domestication, roughly 4,000 years ago, based on the animal's appearance in art and tombs of the era.

Dating the origin of domestic cats earlier and placing this process in the Middle East suggests that cats played a role in the lives of the first farmers.

"Mankind settled down into agricultural villages for the first time about 12,000 years ago, developing many domestic cereals and plants," said Stephen O'Brien, another of the study's authors. "That's about the time and exact same place that cats walked out of woods and did something unusual: act friendly."

6/28/07 4:12 PM
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Willybone
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That's about the time and exact same place that cats walked out of woods and did something unusual: act friendly.

That's the most fascinating thing to me, the idea that cats are self-domesticating. They saw we had some good stuff going on and figured we'd be cool with sharing it and taking care of them, and we were.
6/28/07 5:06 PM
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PatK
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I wonder at what time they became litter trained.
6/28/07 5:35 PM
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Freeman
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1960s sometime.
6/28/07 5:35 PM
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Xtina
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Edited: 28-Jun-07
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they brought the litter boxes with them from the woods, imo
6/28/07 7:14 PM
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Willybone
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kittah > human
6/28/07 7:18 PM
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DW
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LOL at weibe arier
10/8/09 4:11 PM
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PTM2020
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 lol
11/13/09 9:20 PM
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Equus
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Have any of you read the "Little House" series? The whole thing is one set of surviving in the then modern world, as a fact of everyday life.

Anyway, one of the later chapters was how they would need a cat to stay alive, given all of the natural pests in their immediate surroundings. A cat, in this circumstance, was deemed as essential to a successful farm.

Might not it be said that the domestication of cats made it possible for us humans to preserve such crops as barley and wheat which are vulnerable to the hungers of small pests? In other words, maybe kitties helped to make domestication og plants possible. Who else would have chased away the tiny predators?
11/13/09 10:13 PM
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PTM2020
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 "Who else would have chased away the tiny predators?"

Tikimovado woulda done it.
11/25/09 12:29 AM
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LoganClark
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Equus - Who else would have chased away the tiny predators?


Small dogs. I use them for control of mice on my farm since cats are poopheads.
11/25/09 10:57 AM
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Equus
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That's cool. When were dogs domesticated? I'm too lazy to google it right now. It's a good thing that the people to whom cats availed themselves were not allergic, lol.
8/16/10 12:22 AM
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yusul
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terriers were bread for the grainaries. many arguments about dogs, but it only takes about 7 gen for foxes to become tame, so i'd say the point in time is moot.
8/16/10 2:05 AM
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PTM2020
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