Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Cats associated with early human farming long before their domestication

As the herd of Abyssinian cats in my has grown, now numbering two 12 year olds and two kittens, I've become more curious about the origins of this breed and of domestic cats in general. It turn out, as shown in recent work by Jrahcarz et al., that cats were predators feeding on rodents in grain stores in Neolithic farming settlements for at least a thousand years before their domestication as house cats.
Most of today’s domesticates began as farm animals, but cat domestication took a different path. Cats became commensal of humans somewhere in the Fertile Crescent, attracted to early farmers’ settlements by rodent pests. Cat remains from Poland dated to 4,200 to 2,300 y BCE are currently the earliest evidence for the migration of the Near Eastern wildcat to Central Europe. Tracking the possible synanthropic origin of that migration, we used stable isotopes to investigate the paleodiet. We found that the ecological balance was already changed due to the expansion of Neolithic farmlands. We conclude that among the Late Neolithic Near Eastern wildcats from Poland were free-living individuals, who preyed on rodent pests and shared ecological niches with native European wildcats.
As regards the origins of my Abyssianians, I have always passed on the story that all of the current registered purebreds derive from a male brought to England by a British solider in the late 19th century. A quick google look, however, shows their origins to be far from clear.

No comments:

Post a Comment