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Ancient cats travelled world with farmers, Vikings: Study

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London: Researching about the the early origins of the common house cat, a new DNA study has found that the felines travelled the world with farmers and Vikings, says IANS.

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The findings showed that there appeared to be two big migration waves of ancient cats — the first occurred not long after the development of agriculture by humans and the second shortly after the domestication of cats in ancient Egypt approximately 4,000 years ago, said Eva-Maria Geigl, an evolutionary geneticist at the Institute Jacques Monod in France.


The first wave was the result of agriculture by humans. Small cats came into contact with the humans as an increased populations of rodents started consuming the grains they grew. A link between cats in the Fertile Crescent — a region in the Middle East and other parts of the Mediterranean, confirmed this, the researchers said.

The second wave occurred several thousand years later and appeared to be driven by human migrations out of Egypt. Due to farmers and seafaring travelers taking cats along with them to reduce rat and mouse populations, cats were found in Egypt and throughout Eurasia as well as parts of Africa.

In addition, the researchers also found that the fierce Vikings apparently had a soft spot for little kitties and one of them was found buried alongside its master in a common grave site that was dated back 1000 years.

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To learn more about the ancestry of the cat, the researchers obtained mitochondrial DNA samples of 209 cats from multiple archaeological sites around the world. The ages of the remains ranged from approximately 15,000 years ago to just 300 years ago.

The study was presented at International Symposium on Bimolecular Archaeology 2016 at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, in Britain.