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Temporal range: Messinian - Holocene 7–0 Ma
|Wildcat, Felis silvestris|
|Native Felis range|
Results of genetic studies indicate that Felis, and Prionailurus diverged from a Eurasian progenitor about 6.2 million years ago, and that Felis species split off 3.04 to 0.99 million years ago.
This genus also includes the domestic cat. The smallest Felis species is the black-footed cat with a head and body length from 38 to 42 cm (15 to 17 in). The largest is the jungle cat with a head and body length from 62 to 76 cm (24 to 30 in).Felis species inhabit a wide range of different habitats, from swampland to desert, and generally hunt small rodents, birds and other small animals, depending on their local environment. The worldwide introduction of the domestic cat also made it common to urban landscapes around the globe.
The generic name Felis means "cat" in Latin, for it comes from the Latin feles meaning the same thing. The term "feline" is derived from the adjective form felinus ("of the cat").
Felis species have high and wide skulls, short jaws and narrow ears with short tufts, but without any white spots on the back of the ears. Their pupils contract to a vertical slit.
Linnaeus considered Felis to comprise all cat species. Later taxonomists split the cat family into different genera. In 1917, the British zoologist Reginald Innes Pocock revised the genus Felis as comprising only:
Several scientists consider the Chinese mountain cat a subspecies of F. silvestris.
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