Les hommes ont oublié cette vérité. Mais tu ne dois pas l'oublier, dit le renard. Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé.
Le Petit Prince, chap. 21

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

The palaeogenetics of cat dispersal in the ancient world

Ottoni, C. et al. (2017) The palaeogenetics of cat dispersal in the ancient world. Nat. Ecol. Evol. 1, 0139.

The cat has long been important to human societies as a pest-control agent, object of symbolic value and companion animal, but little is known about its domestication process and early anthropogenic dispersal. Here we show, using ancient DNA analysis of geographically and temporally widespread archaeological cat remains, that both the Near Eastern and Egyptian populations of Felis silvestris lybica contributed to the gene pool of the domestic cat at different historical times. While the cat’s worldwide conquest began during the Neolithic period in the Near East, its dispersal gained momentum during the Classical period, when the Egyptian cat successfully spread throughout the Old World. The expansion patterns and ranges suggest dispersal along human maritime and terrestrial routes of trade and connectivity. A coat-colour variant was found at high frequency only after the Middle Ages, suggesting that directed breeding of cats occurred later than with most other domesticated animals.
Spatio-temporal representation of the alleles determining the phenotypic variation in the shape of tabby patterns, mackerel (TaM) and blotched (Tab).

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