September, 2017

9.00 AM - 6.00 PM

410 Park Avenue

Cientific Results Conference


Before cats conquered the internet, they conquered the world—with a little help from their human serfs. Domesticated cats live pretty much everywhere except Antarctica, and a new study in Nature Ecology and Evolution helps to uncover how they spread so far. DNA from the remains of more than 200 cats, dug up from Viking and Stone Age graves and extracted from Egyptian mummies, reveals that cats conquered the globe in two waves. Feline remains are scarce in the archaeological record, and it doesn’t help that ancient domesticated cats are nearly impossible to distinguish from their wild brethren. So there’s a lot we still don’t know for sure about how humans turned wildcats into lap cats. But today’s study, which took 10 years to complete, is one of the most comprehensive analyses yet. The African subspecies of wildcat (named Felis silvestris lybica) found its niche in the region now known as Turkey during the dawn of agriculture. As humans started storing grain some 10,000 years ago, rodents decided to move in with us. That attracted wildcats, and then some smart person said to herself: “Hmm, these things are pretty good at killing rats, maybe we should keep them around.”