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DNA reveals how cats achieved world domination

Analysis of 9,000 years of cat remains suggests two waves of migration

5:01pm, June 19, 2017
cats on a boat

TWO IF BY SEA  Egyptian cats may have been transported by boat to far-reaching parts of Europe, Africa and Asia, a DNA study suggests. Early Middle Eastern farmers probably brought kitties and agriculture to Europe over land.

The cat is starting to come out of the bag when it comes to revealing when and how wild felines became couch kitties.

A tale hidden in ancient cat DNA suggests cats were probably first domesticated in the Middle East. They later spread, first by land, then by sea, to the rest of the world, researchers report June 19 in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Early farmers brought domesticated cats with them into Europe from the Middle East by 6,400 years ago, analysis of cat remains suggests. In a second wave of migration — perhaps by ship — Egyptian cats quickly colonized Europe and the Middle East about 1,500 years ago. Exactly where and when the animals were domesticated has been a matter of great debate. Researchers previously had only modern cats’ DNA to go on. Now, new techniques for analyzing ancient DNA are shedding light on the domestication process.

In the deepest dive

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