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The palaeogenetics of cat dispersal in the ancient world

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

The cat has long been important to human societies as a pest-control agent, object of symbolic value and companion animal, butlittle is known about its domestication process and early anthropogenic dispersal. Here we show, using ancient DNA analysisof geographically and temporally widespread archaeological cat remains, that both the Near Eastern and Egyptian populationsof Felis silvestris lybica contributed to the gene pool of the domestic cat at different historical times. While the cat’s worldwideconquest began during the Neolithic period in the Near East, its dispersal gained momentum during the Classical period, whenthe Egyptian cat successfully spread throughout the Old World. The expansion patterns and ranges suggest dispersal alonghuman maritime and terrestrial routes of trade and connectivity. A coat-colour variant was found at high frequency only afterthe Middle Ages, suggesting that directed breeding of cats occurred later than with most other domesticated animals.
Journal: Nature Ecology & Evolution
ISSN: 2397-334X
Issue: 7
Volume: 1
Pages: 1 - 7
Publication year:2017
BOF-publication weight:10
CSS-citation score:3
Authors from:Higher Education