Can’t you hear meowing over there? It must be one of the 500 million cats that live in homes around the world. The relationship between cats and humans began to solidify 10,000 years ago. But it is not known exactly how it happened. Scientists from the Archaeological Institute of Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torún want to find out. To do this, they carried out a study in which they looked for the origins of the first domestic cats.
Cats and rodents
The results of their study will be published in the PNAS magazine this week. They have the title: Ancestors of domestic cats in Neolithic Central Europe: Isotope evidence of a synanthropic diet. We learn some important data from this study. For example, cats have not always been the first choice to deter rodents. In the Middle Ages, weasels or even snakes could be preferred. There is also talk of the influence of the Roman Empire on the spread of the habit of domesticating cats. In Poland there are fossil remains of cats between 4,200 and 2,300 BC. Maybe they were descendants of the so-called Nubian cat (Felis silvestris lybica). It is the ancestor of domestic cats in Central Europe and originally lived in the Middle East and North Africa.
Domestication of the Nubian cat began 9,000 to 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent. Apparently, they were kept early near the first human settlements. The first interactions between ours and their species began during the Neolithic. The first people gave up nomadism in favor of a sedentary life and began to grow and store food. This attracted numerous rodents of all kinds. This created a useful society between humans and cats.
Take care of the nutrition
The main author of the study is Magdalena Krajcarz. He examined the diet of cats in the remains of 6 Neolithic cats. He also examined the remains of European wildcats for a similar period and area.
“With this method, the eating habits of certain fossil animal species can be determined. Thanks to this, we recognize the average diet that covers the entire life of the animal, »he adds.
Neolithic farmers already mastered agricultural techniques such as enriching their crops with manure or ashes. Rodents and cats in turn would feed on these plants. We wanted to find out if this was the main food for these cats. But it seems that the Middle Eastern cats were not completely dependent on men. The analyzes seem to indicate that all available food sources have been used. Somehow they have kept their independence. Does this seem familiar to you?
Krajcarz says: “Our results confirm that wild cats from the Middle East have spread throughout Europe and have accompanied the first farmers. Probably as companion animals, that is, feeding at the expense of humans, without causing harm or benefit and without being completely dependent on them ». “But in Roman times, they seem to be more like the remains of humans and dogs. This suggests that cats followed a similar diet. They benefited from human resources or may have been fed by humans. “His domestication must have been close to that time.
A new investigation
Dr. Danijela Popovi from Warsaw University starts a new research project. It covers 5,000 years of history of domestic cats in Central Europe.
The project will take 4 years. The goal is to reconstruct the migration routes of domestic cats from the Middle East and North Africa to Europe. They want to find in their genome the clues that have arisen through artificial selection by humans or through crossbreeding with wild cat species native to Europe. You will do fossil DNA analysis and radiocarbon dating. The team plans to analyze the remains of hundreds of cats from various archaeological sites to identify all of the phenotypic and genetic changes – aesthetics, size, color, docility, ability to digest human feed – of the first domestic cats.
That if we domesticate them and of course not the other way around. Now I’m sorry, but I have to