Cat domestication may have started in China
2013-12-17 0:00

By Akshat Rathi | Descrier

There has been much debate about how cats went from hunting in the wild to a much-loved pet. That is because we know little about their domestication. Now researchers have found the earliest case of cat domestication, which happens to be in China, along with the first direct evidence of how it may have happened.

The oldest record of a cat’s association with humans comes from Cyprus where, about 9,500 years ago, a young wildcat was buried with a human. Egyptian art and cat mummies reveal that, by 4,000 years ago, cats had become loved pets. So it is clear that domestication happened in between these two dates. But many questions remains: how, where and when did it happen?

In a new study, just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Yaowu Hu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Fiona Marshall of Washington University in St Louis, and their colleagues try to answer those questions. “We have never before been able to show the nature of the relationship that resulted in domestication, especially for an animal that is solitary like cats and so rare in archaeological sites. So it was surprising to be able to document this at all,” Marshall said.

Like most evolutionary adaptations, domestication of animals can happen in multiple ways. A mutually-beneficial relationship can drive small changes that lead to a permanent change in behaviour, with or without direct human meddling. Or it could be that a prey’s numbers dwindled because of excessive hunting, which forced humans to come up with smarter animal management ideas, such as herding, that led to domestication.

The latter happened to sheep, goats and cattle. The former it was thought must have happened to cats, dogs and pigs. And thanks to Hu and Marshall, we now have evidence in case of cats. It comes from Quanhucun, a site in central China, that was a human settlement about 6,000 years ago. Archaeologists have discovered houses, storage pits, pottery, and some floral and faunal remains there, but few human burials. Piecing all the evidence together makes a compelling case for how domestication of cats may have happened.

[...]

Read the full article at: descrier.co.uk



Related Articles
Cats Recognize Their Owner’s Voice But Chose to Ignore It
“Guard cats” in public service
Cats Outnumber Humans On Japan’s Cat Island
Man Divorces Wife Over Her 550 Cats
Dogs Likely Originated in Europe More Than 18,000 Years Ago
Pet owners increasingly using medical marijuana to help their pets feel better
Medical insanity: Prozac prescriptions rise sharply in family pets
Beauteous beasts: should we draw the line at genetically modified pets?
Did ancient Siberians domesticate horses 50,000 years ago?


Latest News from our Front Page

41% of Americans Support Criminalizing "Hate Speech"
2015-05-23 7:31
The following are from a recent poll about what some are calling on for "hate speech" 1. Support for Hate Crimes Legislation Do you support or oppose the federal law that requires increased penalties for hate crimes committed on the basis of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or gender of any person? 2. Support for Expanding Hate Crimes Do ...
FBI Admits No Major Cases Cracked with Patriot Act Snooping Powers
2015-05-23 7:36
FBI agents can’t point to any major terrorism cases they’ve cracked thanks to the key snooping powers in the Patriot Act, the Justice Department’s inspector general said in a report Thursday that could complicate efforts to keep key parts of the law operating. Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said that between 2004 and 2009, the FBI tripled its use of bulk ...
Sweetener Stevia Was Once Hailed As An Anti-Fertility Agent for Population Reduction
2015-05-23 7:13
Maybe it's not so sweet now... If you've thought stevia, the natural alternative to sugar and artificial sweetners with aspartame, et al., is too good to be true, there may be a catch. Check out this textbook written in 1970 by Paul and Anne Ehrlich, the precursor to the textbook Ecoscience they wrote with Obama Science Czar John P. Holdren ...
TPP Aproved: Senate Republicans Give Obama New Powers - Details Remain 'Classified'
2015-05-23 6:43
President Obama won a big victory for his trade agenda Friday with the Senate’s approval of fast-track legislation that could make it easier for him to complete a wide-ranging trade deal that would include 11 Pacific Rim nations. A coalition of 48 Senate Republicans and 14 Democrats voted for Trade Promotion Authority late Friday, sending the legislation to a difficult fight ...
Circumcision battle: Mom seeks release from jail after federal lawsuit is dismissed
2015-05-23 3:22
West Boynton mother on Wednesday gave up trying to get a federal judge to stop her 4 1/2-year-old son from being circumcised as his father wishes — a battle that also led to her arrest May 14 on a state court warrant. An attorney for Heather Hironimus, who lost similar legal challenges in two state courts, notified U.S. District Judge Kenneth ...
More News »