Tag Archives: Vikings

There were Viking cats

News you can use: New research now suggests that cats spread through human society, with the second wave involving sea-faring people such as the Vikings.

The first wave is a story you’re probably familiar with. When the team looked the mitochondrial DNA – genetic information that’s passed on from the mother only – they found that wild cats from the Middle East and the fertile eastern Mediterranean shared a similar mitochondrial lineage.

This suggests that small wild cats spread through early agricultural communities, because they were attracted to the mice that were attracted to the grains. The farmers likely encouraged their presence, because, let’s face it, those rodent-killing machines would have been mighty cute company.

Then, thousands of years after this, the research points to a separate mitochondrial connection between cats descended from those in Egypt to ones in Eurasia and Africa. “A mitochondrial lineage common in Egyptian cat mummies from the end of the 4th century BC to the 4th century AD was also carried by cats in Bulgaria, Turkey and sub-Saharan Africa from around the same time,” Callaway reports.

This second wave of expansion has been attributed to ancient sea-faring people – farmers, sailors, and Vikings – because the cats were likely encouraged to stay on board to keep their rodent problem in check.

It makes perfect sense. Our ruling lords needed more space, and thus they compelled humans to begin the great explorations that eventually allowed them to conquer the western hemisphere, as well as the internet.

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A sunstone, used by mariners to judge the position of the Sun when it is cloudy, has been found at a 16th century shipwreck.

A sunstone, used by mariners to judge the position of the Sun when it is cloudy, has been found at a 16th century shipwreck.

A previous study showed that calcite crystals reveal the patterns of polarized light around the sun and, therefore, could have been used to determine its position in the sky even on cloudy days. That led researchers to believe these crystals, which are commonly found in Iceland and other parts of Scandinavia, might have been the powerful “sunstones” referred to in Norse legends, but they had no archaeological evidence to support their hypothesis—until now.

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