Jun 19, 2017

How cats conquered the world

A new study outlines how cats went from pest-controllers to human companions and found that most cats come from one of two major lineages of felines from the Near East and Egypt.

How they did it: Scientists analyzed ancient and modern DNA from the remains of over 200 cats that lived during the past 9,000 years, including Egyptian cat mummies and modern wildcats from Bulgaria and East Africa.

  • Cat's cradle: Cats began living side-by-side with humans about 9,000 years ago when farmers in the Near East seem to have first tamed their wild ancestors.
  • Biggest contributors to today's domestic cat gene pool: A cat lineage that first appeared in the Near East and then spread into Europe beginning around 4400 BC and another of Egyptian cats that moved throughout the Mediterranean along trade routes and paths of war (potentially to help control rodents on ships) during the first millennium BC. They then mated with local cats - tame or wild.
  • It's not all appearance: The genetic variant responsible for the distinct markings of tabby cats weren't found at a high frequency until after the Middle Ages, suggesting cats were until relatively recently selected for their behavior not their looks.

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The cost of going after Bloomberg

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Here's the growing dilemma for 2020 Democrats vying for a one-on-one showdown with frontrunner Bernie Sanders: Do they have the guts — and the money — to first stop Mike Bloomberg?

Why it matters: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren all must weigh the costs of punching Bloomberg where he looks most vulnerable: stop-and-frisk, charges of sexism, billionaire entitlement. The more zealous the attacks, the greater the risk he turns his campaign ATM against them.

How Trump’s economy stacks up

Source: "Presidents and US Economy", Trump figures through 2019 courtesy of Alan Blinder; Note: Data shows real GDP and Q1 growth in each term is attributed to the previous president; Chart: Axios Visuals

Average economic growth under President Trump has outpaced the growth under Barack Obama, but not all of his recent predecessors.

Why it matters: GDP is the most comprehensive economic scorecard — and something presidents, especially Trump, use as an example of success. And it's especially relevant since Trump is running for re-election on his economic record.

Coronavirus cases rise as 14 American evacuees infected

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

14 Americans evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship tested positive for the novel coronavirus before being flown in a "specialist containment" on a plane repatriating U.S. citizens back home, the U.S. government said early Monday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,770 people and infected almost 70,000 others. Most cases and all but five of the deaths have occurred in mainland China. Taiwan confirmed its first death on Sunday, per multiple reports, in a 61-year-old man with underlying health conditions. Health officials were investigating how he became ill.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health