A young bobcat buried in a sacred Native American funeral mound in Illinois was found wearing a collar made of bear teeth and marine shells.
Skeletal remains of an immature bobcat, that was at first thought to be a canine, was discovered in the Illinois Hopewell Mounds
Buried near a double human grave, the young bobcat was found adorned with a necklace made of shell beads and bear teeth, making it the first known wildcat burial in archeological records.
The new discovery could now shed light on how cats, dogs, and other wild animals were domesticated in North America.
The builders of the burial mounds were part of the Hopewell culture that dwelled on bluffs overlooking the Illinois River, roughly 48 miles north of St. Louis.
The mound in question was a burial ring with the bodies of 22 adult humans and one infant. Inside the same ring was found the remains of the young animal with the pendants from the decoration lying by its neck.
Noting that the ornaments had holes drilled into them, scientists suggested that they had been part of a collar or necklace.
The wildcat was found with its paws placed together in a respectful way showing that it had clearly not just been "thrown into a hole," leading experts to believe the animal's presence was much more than happenstance.