Cameron-Beaumont, Charlotte E., Lowe, Sarah E. and Bradshaw, John W.S.
Evidence suggesting preadaptation to domestication throughout the small Felidae
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 75, (3), . (doi:10.1046/j.1095-8312.2002.00028.x).
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One obstacle in the development of a coherent theoretical framework for the process of animal domestication is the rarity of domestication events in human history. It is unclear whether: (1) many species are suitable for domestication, the limiting factor being the requirement of people for new domestic animals; or (2) very few species are preadapted for domestication. Comparisons between 16 species and subspecies of small cats (Felidae) kept in zoos indicated that affiliative behaviour towards people, an important preadaptation to domestication, is widely, if patchily, distributed throughout this taxon, and is not concentrated in species closely related to the domestic cat, Felis silvestris catus. The highest proportion of individuals showing affiliative behaviour was found in the ocelot lineage, which is estimated to have diverged from the rest of the Felidae between 5 and 13 Mya. The domestication of F silvestris alone among felids is therefore likely to have been the result of a specific set of human cultural events and requirements in the Egyptian New Kingdom, rather than the consequence of a unique tendency to tameness in this subspecies.
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