Ancient DNA Shows Cats Domesticated Themselves – Why Are We Not Surprised?

DM

Domestication of animals was an amazing feat that changed human relationships with the natural world. But while a Pomeranian looks nothing like a wolf, a thoroughbred jump horse looks nothing like a wild pony, and a potbellied pig looks nothing like a black boar, ‘domestic’ house cats look pretty much exactly like wild cats. That’s because they domesticated themselves—not through form, but through function, and research reveals that wildcat ancestors share essentially the same genetics as house cats today. The two lineages of cats—the European forest cat (felis silvestris silvestris) and Southwest Asia/North African wildcat (felis silvestris lybica)—are solitary hunters that lack any strong social hierarchy, which would make them poor candidates for domestication by humans, to start with.

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