Animals

Are cats the result of the ancient genetic manipulation of snakes?

Snake and cat - simularities

Concept

  • Cats were genetically modified
  • Their vertically slit-shaped eyes are not common in tigers and lions
  • Since cats are not mentioned in the Old Testament, most stories might be older than 9,000 years.

Timeline

9,000 to 10,000 years ago – Domestic cats in Egypt

Mammals vs Reptiles

Cats are mammals, belonging to the class Mammalia, and are part of the order Carnivora. Their closest relatives among living animals are other members of the Carnivora order, such as dogs, bears, and weasels. All of these animals share a common ancestor within the class Mammalia.

Snakes, on the other hand, are reptiles, belonging to the class Reptilia. They are part of the order Squamata, which includes lizards and snakes. Snakes share a more recent common ancestor with other reptiles within the class Reptilia, but they are not closely related to mammals like cats.

The divergence between the ancestors of cats and the ancestors of snakes occurred hundreds of millions of years ago. Therefore, any similarities between these two groups of animals, such as convergent adaptations like eye shape, are the very odd.

Superficial similarities

There are some superficial similarities between them, such as their eye shape and the ability to make certain sounds, which can be attributed to convergent evolution and their adaptation to their respective environments.

Eye Shape

Cats
Cats have vertically slit-shaped pupils, which can change their size to adjust the amount of light entering the eye. This adaptation is common in many predatory animals and provides cats with excellent control over the amount of light they let in, allowing for better hunting capabilities. Vertical slit pupils are also found in other predators like foxes and some birds of prey.

Snakes
Many snakes also have vertically slit-shaped pupils. This eye shape is advantageous for snakes because it helps them gauge distance accurately, judge the size of their prey, and maintain a low profile, which is crucial for their survival as ambush predators. It allows them to strike quickly and accurately at their prey.

The reason both cats and some snakes have vertically slit-shaped pupils is due to convergent evolution, where unrelated species develop similar traits independently in response to similar ecological pressures, in this case, the need for effective predation and hunting strategies.

Snake-Like Sounds

Cats
While cats do not produce sounds that are identical to those of snakes, they can sometimes make hissing or hiss-like sounds when they feel threatened or agitated. This hissing behavior is a defensive response and is intended to warn potential threats to back off. It’s not a mimicry of snake sounds but rather a coincidental similarity in the hissing behavior between the two species.

Snakes
Snakes, on the other hand, can produce a wide range of sounds, including hissing, rattling, and even grunting. These sounds are made for various reasons, such as warning predators or potential threats, defending territory, or attracting mates. Snake sounds are typically produced through the movement of air in their respiratory system or by vibrating specialized structures like rattles in the case of rattlesnakes.

Cats and snakes, despite being very different animals, have a few other odd similarities, which can be interesting to note:

Predatory Instincts: Both cats and snakes are natural predators
They have evolved to be skilled hunters, with adaptations like sharp claws, keen senses, and the ability to strike swiftly. This common predatory nature is a fundamental similarity, even though they hunt very different types of prey.

Solitary Behavior
Many species of cats and snakes are solitary animals. They often prefer to hunt and live alone, only coming together for mating purposes. This solitary behavior is driven by their need to minimize competition for resources and reduce the risk of conflicts.

Carnivorous Diet
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they primarily eat meat. Similarly, snakes are carnivorous, with most species consuming other animals as their primary source of food. Their digestive systems are adapted to processing animal proteins efficiently.

Nocturnal Habits
Many cat species, especially domestic cats, are crepuscular or nocturnal, being most active during the dawn and dusk or during the night. Some snakes are also nocturnal, hunting and moving about during the darker hours when many of their prey species are active.

Flexible Bodies
Cats are known for their flexible and agile bodies, which allow them to climb, leap, and squeeze through tight spaces. Snakes also have incredibly flexible bodies due to their lack of limbs, enabling them to slither and navigate through various terrains and small openings.

Silent Movements
Both cats and snakes are capable of moving silently, which is advantageous for their hunting strategies. Cats have padded paws that minimize noise when walking, while snakes’ lack of limbs and unique locomotion make them nearly silent as they glide across surfaces.

Camouflage
Many cats, especially wild felids, have evolved camouflage patterns that help them blend into their natural environments, making them less visible to both prey and predators. Snakes also exhibit a wide range of camouflaging colors and patterns that allow them to ambush prey and avoid detection by
potential threats.

Cats in the Bible

The earliest known written records of the Bible date back to the second millennium BCE, with the composition of various biblical texts over several centuries. On the other hand, the domestication of cats in Egypt is believed to have occurred much earlier, with archaeological evidence suggesting that cats were kept as pets and revered in Egyptian society as far back as 4,000 years ago, during the Predynastic Period (circa 3500-3100 BCE) and the early Dynastic Period (circa 3100-2686 BCE).

Therefore, domesticated cats were likely present in the Egyptian region well before the earliest biblical texts were written. As a result, it is improbable that the absence of references to cats in the Bible can be attributed to their non-existence in the region during the biblical times. Instead, the omission is more likely due to the Bible’s focus on other aspects of the cultures, histories, and religious beliefs of the time, as well as the specific animals and events that were more significant in the context of the biblical narratives.


Ancient Cats and Snakes

Cats in the Bible: Cats are not directly mentioned in the Bible, and there is no specific reference to them. The reason for this absence could be that domesticated cats, as we know them today, were not common in the regions mentioned in the Bible during the biblical times. The Bible primarily focuses on animals that were more relevant to the cultures and environments of the time.

Snakes in the Bible: Snakes have several mentions in the Bible, and their symbolism can vary:

The Serpent in the Garden of Eden
Perhaps the most famous biblical reference involving a snake is the story of the serpent in the Garden of Eden found in the Book of Genesis. In this story, a serpent tempts Eve to eat the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The serpent is often associated with deception, temptation, and sin. After the temptation, God curses the serpent to crawl on its belly as a punishment.

Moses’ Staff
In the Book of Exodus, God instructs Moses to use his staff to perform miracles before Pharaoh, including turning it into a serpent. This transformation is part of the signs and wonders intended to convince Pharaoh to release the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.

Bronze Serpent
In the Book of Numbers, God commands Moses to create a bronze serpent and place it on a pole. Those who had been bitten by poisonous snakes could look at the bronze serpent and be healed. This story is often interpreted as a symbol of faith and healing.

Symbolism in the New Testament
In the New Testament, Jesus refers to serpents metaphorically in different contexts. In Matthew 10:16, he advises his disciples to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves,” emphasizing the need for shrewdness and innocence in their mission. In John 3:14, Jesus compares himself to the bronze serpent lifted by Moses, suggesting that just as the bronze serpent brought physical healing, belief in Jesus brings spiritual healing and salvation.

The domestic cat

Based on archaeological and genetic evidence, it is generally believed that the domestication of cats began around 9,000 to 10,000 years ago.

One of the earliest known archaeological sites where evidence of cat domestication has been found is the island of Cyprus. At the site of Shillourokambos, dating back to around 7500 BCE, researchers have uncovered the remains of a cat buried alongside a human, suggesting a close relationship between humans and cats. Similar evidence has been found in other parts of the Near East and North Africa.

While the domestication process began several thousand years ago, it took many centuries for domestic cats to spread and diversify into different breeds and forms. Over time, they became companions, valued for their hunting skills and their roles in controlling rodent populations in human settlements.

The domestic cat, scientifically known as Felis catus, is believed to have originated from wildcats in the Near East and Africa. The exact timeline of cat domestication is still a subject of ongoing research and debate among scientists, but it is generally agreed that the process began thousands of years ago.

Here’s an overview of the probable origin and domestication of cats:

Near East and Africa
The domestication of cats likely began in the regions of the Near East and North Africa, where wildcats (Felis lybica) were abundant. These wildcats were attracted to human settlements due to the presence of food sources, such as rodents attracted to stored grain. The mutual benefit of the cats keeping the rodent population in check and humans providing food scraps likely initiated a tentative relationship.

Early Association with Humans
Over time, some wildcats became more tolerant of human presence, and humans may have started to encourage their presence as pest controllers. The less aggressive and more sociable wildcats may have been favored by humans and bred unintentionally.

Selective Breeding
It is believed that, through selective breeding based on desirable traits, humans eventually shaped the domestic cat’s appearance and behavior to some extent. Cats that were more docile, friendly, and useful for hunting or companionship were likely favored for breeding.

Spread of Domestic Cats
As human civilizations expanded and traded goods, domestic cats began to spread to different parts of the world. They became valued for their pest-control abilities and also for their companionship. Cats played various roles in different cultures, from being revered in ancient Egypt to being associated with superstitions in medieval Europe.

Natural Selection and Continued Evolution
While domestic cats have been bred selectively for specific traits by humans, they have also continued to evolve naturally. Even today, domestic cats may interbreed with wildcats in certain regions, leading to genetic diversity.

Why are cats not mentioned in the bible?

The prominence of certain animals like the ox, bull, and goat in the Bible over the cat can be attributed to several factors, including cultural, historical, and religious significance, as well as the roles these animals played in the lives of the people in the biblical regions:

Cultural Significance
In the ancient Near East, including the regions mentioned in the Bible, animals like the ox, bull, and goat were of significant cultural and economic importance. They were commonly used for agricultural purposes, such as plowing fields, pulling carts, and providing milk and meat. These animals were essential for sustaining human life and were thus highly valued.

Religious Symbolism
Many animals in the Bible have symbolic and ritualistic significance in the religious practices of the time. For example, bulls were often used as sacrifices in religious ceremonies, such as in the Tabernacle or Temple worship. Goats were also used in rituals, such as the scapegoat ceremony on Yom Kippur. These rituals were integral to the religious beliefs and practices of the people mentioned in the Bible.

Narrative Roles
The Bible is a collection of texts that tell stories, provide laws, and convey moral and religious teachings. Animals like the ox, bull, and goat often played roles in these narratives. For instance, the oxen were mentioned in stories of agricultural activities, while bulls and goats featured in stories of sacrifices and offerings.

Common animals are mentioned in the bible, but not the cats.

The Bible mentions several animals, including mice, dogs, bears, and baths, in various passages. Here are some references to these:

Mice
In the Old Testament, mice are mentioned in the context of the story of the Philistines capturing the Ark of the Covenant and the subsequent plagues that befell them. In 1 Samuel 6:4-5, the Philistines made golden images of mice to accompany the Ark as part of their attempt to appease God’s anger.

Dogs
Dogs are mentioned in the Bible, often as unclean animals. In the Old Testament, they are sometimes associated with impurity and regarded as scavengers. For example, in 1 Kings 16:4, it is mentioned that dogs would eat the flesh of King Ahab.

In the New Testament, dogs are metaphorically referred to in various passages, such as Philippians 3:2, where Paul warns against “evil workers” as “dogs.”

Bears
Bears are mentioned in the Bible in the context of stories and metaphors. For example, in 2 Kings 2:23-24, there is a story of Elisha being mocked by children, and God sends two female bears to maul the children as punishment. Bears are also used metaphorically in contexts like Proverbs 17:12, which states, “Let a man meet a she-bear robbed of her cubs rather than a fool in his folly.”

Baths
The Bible mentions baths, especially in the context of ritual purification and cleansing. In the Old Testament, there are references to ritual baths for purification purposes, such as in Leviticus 14:8-9 for cleansing from leprosy. Additionally, there are mentions of pools or baths, such as the Pool of Bethesda in John 5:2-9, where Jesus healed a paralyzed man.

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