facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Study: Chinese farmers began domesticating cats 5,300 years ago

Dec. 16, 2013 at 8:21 PM   |   Comments

| License Photo
ST. LOUIS, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- The domestication of cats into the household tabbies we live with today began with Chinese farmers 5,300 years ago, U.S. researchers say.

"At least three different lines of scientific inquiry allow us to tell a story about cat domestication that is reminiscent of the old 'house that Jack built' nursery rhyme," of the cat that ate the rat that ate the malt, study co-author Fiona Marshall, a professor of archaeology at Washington University in St. Louis, said.

"Our data suggest that cats were attracted to ancient farming villages by small animals, such as rodents that were living on the grain that the farmers grew, ate and stored," she said in a university release Monday.

Cats were thought to have first been domesticated in ancient Egypt, where they were kept some 4,000 years ago, but more recent research suggests close relations with humans may have occurred much earlier, the researchers said.

Analysis of bones from at least two cats excavated from the ancient Chinese village of Quanhucun suggests a breed of once-wild cats carved a niche for themselves in a society that thrived on the widespread cultivation of the grain millet, they said, by preying on animals that lived on farmed millet, probably rodents.

One of the cats was aged, showing that it survived well in the village, the researchers said.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Most Popular
1
Next week's lunar eclipse may feature the color turquoise Next week's lunar eclipse may feature the color turquoise
2
Apple releases fix for 'Shellshock' virus Apple releases fix for 'Shellshock' virus
3
"Man in the moon" likely caused by volcano, not astroid "Man in the moon" likely caused by volcano, not astroid
4
Lamborghini reveals Asterion LPI-910, hybrid supercar that hits 199 mph and gets 57 mpg Lamborghini reveals Asterion LPI-910, hybrid supercar that hits 199 mph and gets 57 mpg
5
Mirror turtle ants thrive by going undercover Mirror turtle ants thrive by going undercover
Trending News
x
Feedback