``Cats are evolutionarily perfect,'' says evolutionary biologist

Many people admire cats for their cute appearance, athletic ability, and independence, but Goswami, an evolutionary biologist who works at

the Natural History Museum in London, is known as one of the world's leading natural history museums. , explains `` the evolutionary perfection of cats '' from a scientific perspective.

Cats Are Perfect. An Evolutionary Biologist Explains Why - Scientific American

Multiple species of carnivorous cats have long lived in different parts of the world, and ecologically they all do the same thing. Although there are various types of cats, the only difference between cats is their pattern and size, so they started investigating why so many different types of cats are similar.

One of the similarities between cats is that they have round heads. Cats have different coat colors depending on the breed, but all breeds have round heads like babies and do not grow vertically as humans do when they mature. This is said to be a standard developmental pattern for mammals. On the other hand, dogs have round heads when they are puppies, but as adults they have long noses and their heads are no longer perfectly round.

Kittens and adult cats look very similar and appear to be just larger, but dogs are characterized by a larger change in appearance than cats when they reach maturity. In this way, one of the characteristics of cats is that large physical changes do not occur during the growth process.

Carnivorous mammals, including cats and dogs, have a fourth

premolar in the upper jaw and a first molar in the lower jaw, called a slicing pair for chewing meat.

Many carnivores have molars behind their slicing pairs, which they can use to grind plants, etc. However, cats have almost no teeth behind their slicing pairs, so they can use them to grind plants. have a lower ability to process food than carnivores. This is why foxes scavenge for food by scavenging for food, but cats such as leopards kill livestock to obtain food.

This is a trait that all felines share equally, whether it's a small Bengal cat or a large lion or tiger. Also, even Mr. Goswami, who is an expert on carnivores, has difficulty distinguishing lions and tigers by their skulls, and it seems that their appearance is almost the same. That's why felines are so similar even though they are different species.


allometry occurs slightly in felines, it is insignificant compared to the changes that occur in other carnivores such as dogs. In other words, felines, both large and small, are very similar, and the degree of similarity is greater than the average person can imagine.

Regarding how these physical characteristics of felines are related to ``evolutionary perfection,'' Goswami says, ``Felines only differ slightly in size, and there is no need for variation. It may become smaller or smaller, but other than that, nothing major has changed.It's like mastering one thing rather than realizing every variation, and that's why evolutionarily It's perfect.''

In contrast, there are only a few types of bears, each with different behaviors. For example, pandas are strange herbivores that basically eat only bamboo, spectacled bears prefer fruits and bromeliads, polar bears are carnivores, and black bears and grizzly bears are omnivores. In other words, bears are ecologically very diverse animals that behave completely differently depending on the species. This can be said to be a contrasting characteristic with cats.

Mr. Goswami argues that the sameness, not the diversity of the species, represents the perfection of cats, but says, ``We haven't found a way to do it well, so we're trying different things and increasing diversity.'' I will continue to do so.”

As for whether vertebrates have the same identity as cats, Goswami said, ``Monitors are as amazing as cats. 'However, all species are perfectly identical. Monitor lizards are more diverse in body size than cats, but they are all hardcore carnivores.'

Marsupials , weasels, and the extinct carnivore Creodon are also said to be animals that aimed for cat-like identity, but none of them were able to achieve the same identity as cats. Therefore, Goswami says, ``Cats are not only evolutionarily perfect, they are unique.''

According to Mr. Goswami, especially among mammals, whether they are social or prefer solitary behavior has a great influence on the speed of evolution. Social mammals evolve faster, while solitary mammals evolve at a slower pace. Felines, with the exception of lions, are known for their dislike of group behavior. In other words, cats seem to be animals that evolve relatively slowly compared to other mammals.

in Science,   Creature, Posted by logu_ii