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Big or Small, Cats All Related

New DNA studies show that all cats, big and small, are closely related. The prehistoric saber-toothed tiger is an ancestor of the housecat of today. It only took 15 million years?a blink of an eye in geologic time?for cats to become excellent land predators. Cats were first domesticated in Egypt, where they were mummified and worshipped as gods for their mousing abilities. A recent archeological study in Cyprus proves that that humans gave kept cats as helpmeets for at least 9,500 years.

Cheetahs evolved in the opposite direction of man, who started out in Africa. Africa is the only place in the world where these large spotted cats exist today, but they may have started out in the Americas.

Tracing animal ancestors can be confusing because of "convergent evolutions," which means that unrelated animals can eventually come to look the same way if they occurpy the same ecological niche.

A more precise way to determine how different animals are related is mitochondrial DNA, the only DNA found outside the cell's nucleus. It?s passed down from the mother and can still be found in ancient bones of animals long dead.

Art credit: http://www.freeimages.co.uk

Witches have long kept cats as familiars, and every cat owner knows why. Cats are now more popular pets than dogs, probably because they easily adapt to small apartments and don't need to be walked. During her stroke, Anne Strieber had a near death experience with her deceased Siamese cat Coe. If you enjoy Anne's Diaries, keep the joy coming: subscribe today!

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