Or so they say.
Working on a story about unusual facts about cats, I (O’Leary for News) came across an interesting piece of information from a NOVA documentary:
CARLOS DRISCOLL: All domestic cats, up until the last 20 years, have been purely Felis silvesteris. Humans have, very interestingly, now hybridized the domestic cat with a completely different species.
NARRATOR: Anthony Hutcherson has been breeding one such hybrid, the Bengal cat.
ANTHONY HUTCHERSON (Winn Feline Foundation): Bengals come from a cross between domestic cats and a wildcat species called the Asian leopard cat.
Personality-wise, they are a little different from other cats, and they’re pretty active and interested and intelligent. So, if you just want a cat to sit on your lap, this is not the cat for you.
LESLIE LYONS: The difference between a domestic cat and an Asian leopard cat is about 6,000,000 years of evolutionary time. That’s on the same range as the difference between a human and a chimpanzee.NOVA, “Cat Tales” at PBS (February 19, 2020)
Hmm. Stalin’s attempt to breed humans and chimpanzees did not work out at all.
Yet this cat thing worked. What if the whole concept of “speciation” is not really a very good way of tracking the movement of genes?
Good live pix here:
This is the piece I was working on: Some mysteries about cats … solved! Pet dogs outnumber cats but they’ll never excel at creating the aura of mystery at which the cat effortlessly succeeds. There are good reasons, as research has shown, why we have always found cats mysterious, compared to dogs.
Also: A physicist looks at biology’s problem of “speciation” in humans