Discovery Channel reports on a study designed to trace the lineage of the modern house cat. The results:
Cats' ancestry was traced to five types of wild cats [which] managed to interbreed at various times, with the result being Felis silvestris lybica, which appears to be the ancestor of modern house cats.
"This was an amazing experiment when animals came out of the wild,"
O'Brien said. "Cats are known for their ferocious, deadly nature,"
O'Brien said, so this is an extraordinary change for them.
Cats may have been domesticated once or many times, he said, adding
that the most likely case is they were domesticated once and other wild
cats bred with the domesticated ones.
"I wasn't there, but all the data supports that," he said.
The researchers found wild cats, with DNA identical to domestic cats, in Israel, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
By studying the mitochondrial DNA of 979 domestic and wild cats from
Europe, Asia and Africa the researchers concluded that the origins of
the species â€” what O'Brien calls a feline Adam and Eve â€” developed
between 130,000 and 160,000 years ago. Mitochondrial DNA is passed down from mother to child.
Photo of Felis sylvestris lybica from Noorderlicht