Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Which comes as fascinating news to me, especially as, for some time now, I have been spasmodically working on a collection of short stories about cats.

"It has often been said that the dog was the first animal domesticated by humans. The date of this has long been placed at 14,000 to 20,000 years before present. Recent analysis of mitochondrial DNA of dogs, wolves, and other canines show that dogs had actually split off from wolves 135,000 years ago. I propose that not only have paleontologists been mistaken about the date of the domestication of dogs, dogs were not even the first animals to be domesticated. This place of honor belongs to the ancestors of the common house cat, Felis catus. The cat was the first animal to be domesticated, more than 4 million years ago, long before the genus Homo evolved. And in fact it was the cat, or rather the loss of cats, that molded and shaped the evolution of Homo. (If “domestication” doesn’t sit well with you when applied to the relationship between a prehuman primate and a cat, think of it as a quasi-symbiotic relationship.) There are many unexplained matters in the early history of hominines. How could the australopithecines survive in Pliocene Africa? No tools for hunting, too small and weak to complete with other scavengers, teeth (in the gracile form) unadapted for plant eating, they seem to have been unable to even feed themselves. And the slow and small australopithecines would have been easy prey for the first large carnivore to come along. Where did they spend the night? In spite of their disadvantages, australopithecines managed to survive almost unchanged for 2 million years. How? And why did these survivors suddenly evolve into a new genus, Homo, just then the large carnivores were dying out? The answer to all these questions: the Pliocene Pussy Cat." (Click here for more)

The secret word is Hissy

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