The 37 percent
of Americans who have pet cats in their homes might be surprised to learn that cats once sailed with vikings.
Results of the world’s first large-scale study of “ancient feline DNA” was presented by the International Symposium on Biomolecular Archaeology in Oxford, which sequenced
DNA from 209 cats that lived between 15,000 and 2,700 years ago.
Traces of cat DNA were found in more than 30 archaeological excavation sites across Europe, the middle East, and Africa– which reveal that vikings took cats on their voyages– including in ancient Egyptian tombs, burial sites in Cyprus, and a Viking grave in Germany.
Eva-Maria Geigl, an evolutionary geneticist from the Institut Jacques Monod in France and study team member told Nature:
“We don’t know the history of ancient cats. We do not know their origin, we don’t know how their dispersal occurred.”
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“There are so many interesting observations in the study,” said Population Geneticist Pontus Skoglund from Harvard Medical School.
“I didn’t even know there were Viking cats.”