Friday, February 19, 2021

Felines are related

Felines are related through evolution. It is obvious that all cats are closely related because they are so much alike. The biggest Siberian tiger is a carbon copy of the smallest domestic cat in terms of anatomy. The size is vastly different and the coat colours and markings are different too but all the internal and external anatomy is the same. The coat colour is different because it is camouflage for tigers. Domestic cats don't need camouflage anymore. They just need to look pretty for people!

The domestic cat
The domestic cat. Photo: Helmi Flick.

You have to believe in evolution to understand how they are related. I am referring to Darwin's 'On the Origin of the Species'. It has taken perhaps around 40 million years for the various species of cat (around 36 different species) to evolve to the current state. And evolution is continuing. It is a perpetual journey.

What happens is that different types of cat gradual evolve to fit the environment in which they live and times in which they live as climate is dependent in the long term on time. Nature has a way of refining animals through evolution so they can survive more successfully.

This happens by faults occurring during reproduction. A genetic mutation causes a copy of a gene to be different. This results in the animal being slightly different. Perhaps the cat with a genetic mutation resulted in longer fur and perhaps that cat lived in a cold place. It was easier for that cat to survive and the shorthaired cats could not so a new long-haired cat evolved in that place. This example could apply to Pallas's cat.

Evolution starts with a mistake. Nature finds that the mistake works as the animal survives more effectively and therefore the mistake becomes the norm and bingo you have a new species. It takes millions of years for these mistakes to 'stick'. Evolution is a mighty slow process. For the cats this happened around 36 times to make 36 new species. The domestic cat both purebred and random bred is one species.

You have to realise though that the classification of the species of cat is somewhat arbitrary. Scientists decide how to divide all the various cats up into different species. This is called taxonomy. Taxonomy is also becoming more refined and changing.

Because all the cats started off with one species, they are all related by that original species. They are all one family.; the cat family. Felidae.

This is the taxonomy for the felidae courtesy Wikipedia:

Scientific classificatione

Here is a decent video on cat evolution. It is not great but adequate. My thanks to the maker of it.

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