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
5 Replies to “Hybrid pet cat bred from species as different as humans and chimpanzees”
Cats have 19 chromosome pairs, 18 autosomes and the sex chromosome pair, X and Y. Females are 38, XX and males are 38, XY.
Bengal cats are hybrids between domestic cats and Asian Leopoard cats. These species have slightly different chromosomes, thus all F1 Bengals will have a combination of Leopard cat chromosomes and domestic cat chromosomes, which can be identified by a karyotypic analysis. Most fertile Bengal cats should have a karyotype that looks like a domestic cat.
Now the karyotoype is not the same for Humans (46) and Chimpanzees (48) meaning they cannot interbreed under normal circumstances. (perhaps some mad scientist will find a way to combine the genomes)
It has been known for some time that cats can be linked by a chain of hybrids from tabby to tiger. This hybrid should come as no surprise.
Horse (64) and donkey (62) interbreed. The mule (63) is their offspring. “A cross between a horse (64 chromosomes), and a plains zebra (44 chromosomes), will produce a zebroid offspring with 54 chromosomes.” wikipedia on zebroids
Fertility issues arise with an odd number of chromosomes. But even then it ain’t impossible for mules to breed.
Perhaps they need the right mates pre-hybrid in order to gain fertility post-hybrid.