Have you ever wondered how wildcats turned into kitty cats? Everyone has read that wildcats were feral and fierce. While a house cat is friendly and sweet. How did the cats become the most popular and loveable pet?
In recent times, scientists have discovered a DNA in cats that lead to their transformation. According to Greger Larson, a biologist at the University of Oxford, they are very close to understanding the cat genome sequence that started the change. He also mentioned this is the closest they have been to understanding the domestication of cats.
It was almost 10,000 years ago when cats entered our society. At that time people started farming in the Middle East. The wildcats came out of the desert and entered the village looking for rodents, residing in the grain stores.
Many experts believed the cats tamed themselves so they can get protection and food. Over the years, the cats changed; they shrank in size, obtained coat patterns and colors. They even left the antisocial tendencies. Though other domesticated animals have undergone the same changes, few is known about their genes.
In research led by Michael Montague, researchers have discovered some of the genes. They used the genome sequence of a domestic cat that was published in 2007. The researchers added the missing DNA and discovered the genes that led the change.
It was mentioned that 281 genes displayed the genetic changes. The changes varied, some transformed the vision and hearing of cats. While the other genetic changes focused on the metabolism of the felines.
However, the most fascinating findings were related to the transformation of wildcats into friendly felines. They uncovered 13 DNAs that caused this change. These genes had a role in the behavior and cognition of the cats. Moreover, it also had an impact on the fear response and their ability to learn new behaviors.
According to Montague, this is why the cats became less fearful of the individuals and location. The promise of food kept the cats around us. Additionally, the team of researchers also found 5 genes in the domestic cats that influenced the neural crest cells and stem cells. This impacted everything of the cats, from coat color to shape of the skull. In a proposal, it was stated that these cells might be the master control of domestication.
Overall, this is a huge discovery in the evolution of cat domestication.