Saturday, January 07, 2006

New cat family tree revealed

Friday, 6 January 2006
By Helen Briggs
BBC News science

Modern cats have their roots in Asia 11 million years ago, according to a DNA study of wild and domestic cats.

The ancient ancestors of the 37 species alive today migrated across the globe, eventually settling in all continents except Antarctica, say scientists.

Cats were domesticated 6,000 years ago

Eight major lineages emerged, including lions, ocelots and domestic cats.

The moggy is most closely related to the African and European wild cat and the Chinese desert cat, an international team reports in Science.

Warren Johnson of the National Cancer Institute in Frederick, Maryland, US, led the study.

He said they were able to trace the ancestry of all living cat species back to South East Asia some 11 million years ago.

In a relatively small number of migrations, cats spread across the world, as land bridges sprang up between continents.

It turns out tha

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