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National Cancer Institute Studies Cat History?

From those lovers of science at the New York Times:

Study Traces Cat’s Ancestry to Middle East

By NICHOLAS WADE

Some 10,000 years ago, somewhere in the Near East, an audacious wildcat crept into one of the crude villages of early human settlers, the first to domesticate wheat and barley. There she felt safe from her many predators in the region, such as hyenas and larger cats.

The rodents that infested the settlers’ homes and granaries were sufficient prey. Seeing that she was earning her keep, the settlers tolerated her, and their children greeted her kittens with delight.

At least five females of the wildcat subspecies known as Felis silvestris lybica accomplished this delicate transition from forest to village. And from these five matriarchs all the world’s 600 million house cats are descended.

A scientific basis for this scenario has been established by Carlos A. Driscoll of the National Cancer Institute and his colleagues. He spent more than six years collecting species of wildcat in places as far apart as Scotland, Israel, Namibia and Mongolia. He then analyzed the DNA of the wildcats and of many house cats and fancy cats

Possibly there is some abstruse but vital genetic information that can only be gleaned by traveling around the world collecting cats.

If so, the article fails to mention it.

So a layman might be forgiven for asking why the taxpayer funded National Cancer Institute has people on its payroll spending six years doing research on the genetic history of cats.

Has cancer been cured and nobody told us?

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Friday, June 29th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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