Report

The Near Eastern Origin of Cat Domestication

Science  27 Jul 2007:
Vol. 317, Issue 5837, pp. 519-523
DOI: 10.1126/science.1139518

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Abstract

The world's domestic cats carry patterns of sequence variation in their genome that reflect a history of domestication and breed development. A genetic assessment of 979 domestic cats and their wild progenitors—Felis silvestris silvestris (European wildcat), F. s. lybica (Near Eastern wildcat), F. s. ornata (central Asian wildcat), F. s. cafra (southern African wildcat), and F. s. bieti (Chinese desert cat)—indicated that each wild group represents a distinctive subspecies of Felis silvestris. Further analysis revealed that cats were domesticated in the Near East, probably coincident with agricultural village development in the Fertile Crescent. Domestic cats derive from at least five founders from across this region, whose descendants were transported across the world by human assistance.

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