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Cat Domestication in Central Europe
A prehistoric feline migration into Europe may have occurred, according to a recent international effort looking into the origins and history of the domestic cat
DNA from the Near Eastern wildcat, the ancestor of contemporary domestic cats, had previously been discovered in Central European prehistoric sites dating back to 3,000 BC. Such discoveries are curious, as they place the timing the arrival of the cat ancestor to Central Europe a millennia before domestic cats were first introduced to the area. This has sparked concerns regarding how cats got to Central Europe from the Near East and their interactions with people, particularly whether or not they were considered household animals.
As a result, a group of scientists started a brand-new study to investigate the origins and history of the cat in Central Europe using palaeogenetics, zooarchaeology, and radiocarbon dating. The journal Antiquity has published its preliminary findings. One important discovery is more proof that Near Eastern wildcat genes were present in European species before the Neolithic, when the first farmers arrived in Europe.
This indicates that these cats were dispersed throughout Europe before the first settlers were present, indicating that they were probably still wild animals that spontaneously invaded Central Europe. Such a time-frame raises numerous more questions concerning this migration, such as whether or not these early cats built a bond with early farming people, how far into Europe they traveled, and whether there is proof of them mating with the local wildcat in Europe. The team hopes that some of these concerns will be clarified by their project.
The team also discovered that domestic cats have been bred to be smaller over time. Roman house cats were, on average, larger than their contemporary counterparts, according to a study of the morphological changes in domestic cats across the millennia. They shrunk during the next centuries, becoming somewhat smaller than modern cats in the Middle Ages.
The researchers also anticipate that the high-resolution data gathered for this experiment will aid in figuring out the origins of domestic cats in Central Europe, their migrational paths, and when and how they first appeared there. This might also demonstrate how it was related to human history and how much it affected the wild cat population in Europe.
Before the research is finished, the team intends to shed light on a wide range of additional facets of the history of cats. According to their theories, current study will help us comprehend the complexities of cat-human and cat-wildlife interaction in Central Europe from ancient times to the present.
Krajcarz, M., Krajcarz, M., Baca, M., Golubiński, M., Bielichová, Z., Bulatović, J., . . . Popović, D. (2022). The history of the domestic cat in Central Europe. Antiquity, 1-6. doi:10.15184/aqy.2022.128