Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Cats' Family Tree Rooted In Fertile Crescent, Study Confirms
Science Daily ^ | 2-1-2008 | University of California - Davis.

Posted on 02/01/2008 2:55:53 PM PST by blam

Cats' Family Tree Rooted In Fertile Crescent, Study Confirms

Cats, with their penchant for hunting mice, rats and other rodents, became useful companions as people domesticated, grew and stored wild grains and grasses. Eventually, cats also became pets but were never fully domesticated. Even today, most domestic cats remain self-sufficient, if necessary, and continue to be efficient hunters, even when provided with food. (Credit: Michele Hogan)

ScienceDaily (Jan. 29, 2008) — The Fertile Crescent of the Middle East has long been identified as a "cradle of civilization" for humans. In a new genetic study, researchers at the University of California, Davis, have concluded that all ancestral roads for the modern day domestic cat also lead back to the same locale.

Findings of the study, involving more than 11,000 cats, are reported in the January issue of the journal Genomics.

"This study confirms earlier research suggesting that the domestication of the cat started in the Fertile Crescent region," said Monika Lipinski, lead researcher on the study and a doctoral candidate in the School of Veterinary Medicine. "It also provides a warning for modern cat fanciers to make sure they maintain a broad genetic base as they further develop their breeds."

Leslie Lyons, an authority on cat genetics and principal investigator on this study, said: "More than 200 genetic disorders have been identified in modern cats, and many are found in pure breeds. We hope that cat breeders will use the genetic information uncovered by this study to develop efficient breed-management plans and avoid introducing genetically linked health problems into their breeds."

History of the modern cat

Earlier archaeological evidence and research on the evolutionary history of cats has suggested that domestication of the cat originated about 5,000 to 8,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent, a region located today in the Middle East. This is the area around the eastern end of the Mediterranean, stretching from Turkey to northern Africa and eastward to modern day Iraq and Iran. This domestication of the cat occurred as humans transitioned from nomadic herding to raising crops and livestock.

Cats, with their penchant for hunting mice, rats and other rodents, became useful companions as people domesticated, grew and stored wild grains and grasses. Eventually, cats also became pets but were never fully domesticated. Even today, most domestic cats remain self-sufficient, if necessary, and continue to be efficient hunters, even when provided with food.

Cats and their gene pools spread rapidly around the world as ancient civilizations developed trade routes. Unlike other domesticated species, there has been little effort to improve on the cat for functional purposes. Instead, development of cat breeds has been driven more by preferences for certain aesthetic qualities like coat color and color patterns.

Today, there are 50 recognized cat breeds. Of that total, 16 breeds are thought to be "natural breeds" that occurred in specific regions, while the remaining breeds were developed during the past 50 years.

DNA of 11,000 cats

In this study, the UC Davis research team focused on:

tracing the movement of the modern cat through the ancient world and to the Americas; measuring changes in genetic diversity as cats dispersed throughout the world; and measuring any loss of genetic diversity that might have occurred in the development of the older or more contemporary breeds. The researchers collected samples of cheek cells from more than 11,000 cats. These cats represented 17 populations of randomly bred cats from Europe, the Mediterranean, Asia, Africa and the Americas, as well as 22 recognized breeds.

DNA samples of most breeds were obtained at cat shows or were sent in upon the lab's request by cat owners in the United States. The study was assisted by a host of collaborators from throughout the world. DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the hereditary material in humans, other animals and plants. It carries the instructions or blueprint for making all the structures and materials that the organism needs to function.

Genetic markers called "microsatellite markers," commonly used for DNA profiling, were used to determine the genetic relationships of cat breeds, their geographic origins and the levels of genetic loss that have resulted from inbreeding.

Findings

From the DNA analysis, the researchers found that the cats were genetically clustered in four groups that corresponded with the regions of Europe, the Mediterranean basin, east Africa and Asia.

They discovered that randomly bred cats in the Americas were genetically similar to randomly bred cats from Western Europe. They also found that the Maine coone and American shorthair -- two breeds that originated in the United States -- were genetically similar to the seven Western European breeds. This suggests that cats brought to the New World by European settlers have not had sufficient time to develop significant genetic differentiation from their Western European ancestors.

The study yielded many interesting breed-specific findings. For example, the researchers found that the Persian breed, perhaps the oldest recognized pure breed, was not genetically associated with randomly bred cat populations from the Near East, but rather was more closely associated with randomly bred cats of Western Europe.

In addition, the researchers found that, of the Asian cat breeds, only the Japanese bobtail was genetically clustered with Western cats, although it did retain some Asian influence.

Cats from the Mediterranean region were found to be genetically uniform, perhaps a result of the constant movement of ships and caravans during the early era of the cat's domestication, the researchers suggested.

Lesson for cat breeders

The study found that genetic diversity remained surprisingly broad among cats from various parts of the world. However the data indicated that there was some loss of diversity associated even with the long-term development of foundation cat breeds -- those breeds that provided the genetic basis from which modern pure breeds were developed.

The researchers note that, given the relatively short time span during which modern breeds are emerging, cat breeders should proceed cautiously as they develop their breeds, making sure to maintain a broad genetic base that will minimize introduction of genetically based health problems.

Funding for this study was provided by the National Institutes of Health, the Winn Feline Foundation and the George and Phyllis Miller Feline Health Fund. Also supporting the study were the Center for Companion Animal Health and the Koret Center of Veterinary Genetics, both within the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Adapted from materials provided by University of California - Davis.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: agriculture; animalhusbandry; cat; cats; family; fertilecrescent; godsgravesglyphs; helixmakemineadouble; kittyping; meow; multiregionalism; rats; rodents; tree

1 posted on 02/01/2008 2:55:56 PM PST by blam
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: blam

Thanks for this excellent article, PING this over to Slings and Arrows. :) =^..^=


2 posted on 02/01/2008 2:58:44 PM PST by Biggirl (A biggirl with a big heart for God's animal creation, with 4 cats in my life as proof. =^..^=)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

Cats are from the Middle East....no wonder they can be irritating ;-)


3 posted on 02/01/2008 3:01:27 PM PST by G8 Diplomat (Creatures are divided into 6 kingdoms: Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, Monera, Protista, & Saudi Arabia)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam
CATS: HOW ARE YOU SADDAM!!
CATS: ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US.
4 posted on 02/01/2008 3:01:29 PM PST by RichInOC (CATS: HA HA HA HA....)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

My dogs are usually the ones to go after rodents. Such cats as have lived here would also bring a vole home once in a while but the dogs are very active on that job function. Got to wonder why the Mesopots preferred cats.


5 posted on 02/01/2008 3:02:17 PM PST by RightWhale (oil--the world currency)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam


"Yes, I like to hunt and kill mice and rats, but boiled shrimp tastes infinitely better!"
-Martin Whiteshoes
6 posted on 02/01/2008 3:03:33 PM PST by BigEdLB (BigEd)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam

Thank you for posting this!

You always find the good stuff!!!


7 posted on 02/01/2008 3:04:33 PM PST by nmh (Intelligent people recognize Intelligent Design (God) .)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: All

Turkish vans and Persians are among the longest-domesticated cats....both from the ME/fertile crescent area.


8 posted on 02/01/2008 3:04:47 PM PST by G8 Diplomat (Creatures are divided into 6 kingdoms: Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, Monera, Protista, & Saudi Arabia)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Slings and Arrows

meow!


9 posted on 02/01/2008 3:05:04 PM PST by To Hell With Poverty (For evil to win, it is only necessary for Jimmy Carter to be considered a role model.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: G8 Diplomat

Don’t forget the Abyssinian as well.


10 posted on 02/01/2008 3:07:04 PM PST by rintense (You don't advance conservatism by becoming more liberal. Piss off McCain and Huck!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: blam

“maintain a broad genetic base that will minimize introduction of genetically based health problems.’

Very interesting study. Of course, geneticists often take the opportunity to start discussing something they don’t know anything about; breeding. Despite what they say, the surest route to maintaining healthy breeding stock is to restrict the gene pool, not expand it.


11 posted on 02/01/2008 3:11:13 PM PST by Varda
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blam
Not domestic, not from the ME, but cute as a button.
12 posted on 02/01/2008 3:41:29 PM PST by WildcatClan (The epitome of irony is that few entities exist, less common, than common-sense.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: RightWhale
I think it depends on the breed of dog. I know the terrier types are ferocious when it comes to going after rodents and such, but other breeds....eh, not so much.

Differences in breeds aside, it still comes down to a particular animals individual personality. Not all terriers hunt rodents, and some of the working class dogs love a good rat hunt. Go figure.

We've thankfully got enough outdoor cats around here that Dog doesn't have to earn his keep that way. I say thankfully, because if it was left up to Dog, he would probably just make friends with them (as long as they don't get too close to his food dish).

13 posted on 02/01/2008 4:01:51 PM PST by Pablo64 (What is popular is not always right. What is right is not always popular.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Biggirl
cat
14 posted on 02/01/2008 4:28:06 PM PST by Snickering Hound
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Snickering Hound

That’s a good kitty! My boy kitty, Zack, is good tempered that way.


15 posted on 02/01/2008 4:37:10 PM PST by TruthConquers (Delendae sunt publici scholae)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Snickering Hound

Some cats are REALLY lazy!


16 posted on 02/01/2008 5:00:15 PM PST by Fresh Wind (Scrape the bottom, vote for Rodham!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: blam
A cat can sleep for 50 years, then get up, yawn, and climb a Sequoia.

17 posted on 02/01/2008 5:20:30 PM PST by William Terrell (Individuals can exist without government but government can't exist without individuals.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: To Hell With Poverty; Slings and Arrows; Glenn; republicangel; Bahbah; Beaker; BADROTOFINGER; ...



18 posted on 02/01/2008 7:06:31 PM PST by Slings and Arrows ("Those who surrender personal liberty for lower global temperatures will receive neither."--weegee)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Slings and Arrows
One of my own.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
19 posted on 02/01/2008 7:09:47 PM PST by cripplecreek (Duncan Hunter, Conservative excellence in action.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Slings and Arrows

Awgee...if I were that kitty, I’d never have to leave home. A GI is all I would need for total security.


20 posted on 02/01/2008 7:11:16 PM PST by Monkey Face (He who laughs last probably didn't get the joke.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: blam
Photobucket

Cats are good hunters

21 posted on 02/01/2008 10:25:09 PM PST by skimask (Support Terrorism......Vote Democratic)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Slings and Arrows

Thanks for making an offical kitty PING list. =^..^=


22 posted on 02/02/2008 2:51:27 AM PST by Biggirl (A biggirl with a big heart for God's animal creation, with 4 cats in my life as proof. =^..^=)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: rintense

The most famous right now is Punkin, Rush Limbaugh’s cat.


23 posted on 02/02/2008 2:52:32 AM PST by Biggirl (A biggirl with a big heart for God's animal creation, with 4 cats in my life as proof. =^..^=)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: cripplecreek

...The few, the proud. =^..^=


24 posted on 02/02/2008 2:53:29 AM PST by Biggirl (A biggirl with a big heart for God's animal creation, with 4 cats in my life as proof. =^..^=)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: Snickering Hound

That is funny! =^..^=


25 posted on 02/02/2008 3:15:46 AM PST by Biggirl (A biggirl with a big heart for God's animal creation, with 4 cats in my life as proof. =^..^=)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: RightWhale
Got to wonder why the Mesopots preferred cats

Cats are patient, clean and don't smell, are smaller and easier to handle, very intellgent, lovable, full of antics, amusing, keep themselves clean, adorable, don't eat their own or others poop, don't slobber, don't bark, are dainty at the food bowl, don't have to be let out 4 times a day, poop in a convenient box, fit on your lap or bed and are very elegant. Dog's aren't.

26 posted on 02/02/2008 6:10:36 AM PST by Fawn (Who shall I vote for...Hmmmm....HIllary or McCain. Tough call.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Biggirl

De nada, chica.


27 posted on 02/02/2008 8:43:29 AM PST by Slings and Arrows ("Those who surrender personal liberty for lower global temperatures will receive neither."--weegee)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]


 GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach
Note: this topic is dated 2/01/2008.

Blast from the Past.

Thanks blam.

Just adding to the catalog, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.


28 posted on 03/03/2013 7:30:07 PM PST by SunkenCiv (Romney would have been worse, if you're a dumb ass.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson