Wildcat - Evolution - Origins

Origins

The wildcat's direct ancestor was Felis lunensis, or Martelli's wildcat, which lived in Europe as early as the late Pliocene. Fossil remains of the wildcat are common in cave deposits dating from the last ice age and the Holocene. The European wildcat first appeared in its current form 2 million years ago, and reached the British Isles from mainland Europe 9000 years ago, at the end of the last ice age. During the Late Pleistocene (possibly 50,000 years ago), the wildcat migrated from Europe into the Middle East, giving rise to the steppe wildcat phenotype. Within possibly 10,000 years, the steppe wildcat spread eastwards into Asia and southwards to Africa.

The wildcat's closest living relatives are the sand cat, the Chinese mountain cat (which may be a subspecies of wildcat), the jungle cat and the black-footed cat. As a whole, the wildcat (along with the jungle and leopard cat) represents a much less specialised form than the sand cat and manul. However, wildcat subspecies of the lybica group do exhibit some further specialisation, namely in the structure of the auditory bullae, which bears similarity to those of the sand cat and manul.

Read more about this topic:  Wildcat, Evolution

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