Cats came to Australia with European settlers not 17th-Century shipwrecks, two studies say

 src=Feral cats in Australia are descended from animals that arrived after European settlement, confirming their devastating impact on local wildlife, researchers say.

Two separate studies analysed the genomes of feral cats from around Australia to determine whether Australian populations are related to Asian cats or came from European stock, and when they arrived.

Although most evidence suggests that cats arrived with early European settlers, it is possible that some animals came ashore from shipwrecks off Western Australia around 1600, arrived with Malaysian fishermen in northern Australia from about 1650, or even arrived with the dingo around 4,500 years ago.

A team led by Dr Katrin Koch from the Senkenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre in Frankfurt compared the genomes of 266 feral cats from the Australian mainland and six of its islands to cats from European and south-east Asian populations.

They report in Originally Published at

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