Ancient bones may show step in domesticating cats

5:29 PM, Dec 16, 2013   |    comments
Lion siblings (Courtesy San Diego Zoo Safari Park) and domesticated Bengal cat
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NEW YORK (AP) - Have you ever seen your cat run down a mouse? Some fossil bones suggest that was going on in a Chinese village some 5,300 years ago. And that's giving support for the leading theory on how wild cats became domesticated, which led to our feline companions today.  

Scientists believe the process began when farmers stored grain. That attracted rodents. And the rodents, in turn, attracted wild cats into the village. After a while, scientists believe, cats got used to village life and became domesticated.  

The new research finds evidence that ancient cats did indeed perform this pest control. Chemical signatures in the bones indicate the cats ate rodents that had been feasting on grain.  

The work appears Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Associated Press

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