Saturday, December 15, 2012

Martelli's Cat

Felis lunensis
Did you know that the Felis genus, which contains domesticated cats, has been around for 12 million years? Today's animal isn't quite that old, but it did live around 2.5 million years ago, and is one of the very first "modern" cats.

Felis lunensis, also known as Martelli's Cat, was discovered in the early 1900s. Its fossils were uncovered in both Italy and Hungary, and the common name comes of the naturalist who first described it-- Ugolino Martelli.

Martelli's Cat may actually be a direct ancestor of domesticated cats. It appears that the Asian Wildcat, F. silvestris, evolved from them. One of the subspecies of that animal, F. s. lybica, is the wildcat that housecats were domesticated from!

Status : Extinct for 2.5 million years
Location : Europe
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Carnivora
Family : Felidae -- Genus : Felis -- Species : †F. lunensis

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