Monday, July 20, 2020

playing cat and mouse

After the Covid communications feature, I needed a little bit of light relief and was very grateful to discover through the twitter feed of French newspaper Libération a recent paper about how mice became associated with human settlements. Obviously, once we had mice in our houses eating all our grain provisions, we also needed cats. Libération referenced an ancient story about cat domestication from the 00s, but I was sure I had seen something more recent elsewhere, and I found it, and so I could close the circle of life: humans - grains - mice - cats - humans. That was very satisfying, and it fits in really nicely with lots of earlier features I wrote about things like the evolution of agriculture, the Indoeuropean languages, dogs, Bronze Age civilisations, and more.

So, great fun, and I hope you enjoy it too.

Of mice and men, cats and grains

Current Biology Volume 30, Issue 14, 20 July 2020, Pages R783-R786

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(will become open access again one year after publication)

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New analyses of ancient rodent remains suggest that the house mouse moved in with Neolithic humans even before they started storing grain. (Photo: Chris Game/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).)

PS It just dawned on me that this was my 222nd feature in this format, published on July 20, 2020. Also, if you're on instagram (I'm not), you can find the feature here, and like, share, comment, or whatever people do on instagram.

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