In DepthConservation Biology

Madagascar's mysterious, murderous cats identified

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Science  13 Mar 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6483, pp. 1178
DOI: 10.1126/science.367.6483.1178

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Madagascar's elusive "forest cats" are twice the size of house cats and have a voracious appetite for the island's native birds, snakes, rodents, and lemurs. But cats didn't evolve on the island, and the history of these felines has long been a mystery. Now, researchers have revealed the cats' origin story: They descend from domestic kitties that hopped off Arabian trading ships perhaps more than 1000 years ago. By pinpointing them as a separate population that has spent centuries adapting to Madagascar, a new paper may offer a first step toward limiting the toll these relentless hunters take on the island's rich biodiversity.

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