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Old 11-26-2015, 04:56 PM
 
Location: Seattle WA, USA
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This thread has to do with this youtube video about why there was now plague that devastated to old world when europeans came into contact with the new world.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEYh5WACqEk

The person in the video claims that the reason why there was this lack of plague in the new world was that there were no domestic animals. Many people claim that the reason why pre colombian america had next to no domestic animals was because there were no animals that were good candidates. However I think that was not the case, I think that the natives found it much easier to go out in the woods and hunt for food, then it was to actually raise the animals. Also perhaps they knew about the risk of plague that comes with raising animals?

First off I want to point out that the natives knew about domestication and actually ended up domesticating a few animals.
Llama https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Llama
Alpaca https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpaca
Turkey https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domesticated_turkey
Muscovy duck https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscovy_duck
Guinea pig https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guinea_pig
Dog Native American Indian Dogs: Indigenous Dog Breeds of North and South America
Araucana chicken? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Araucana (possibly pre colombian, introduced by polynesians?)
and possibly more.

Then there were other animals that could've been domesticated but never were.
Reindeer/Caribou https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reindeer (herdered in the old world by arctic peoples from scandanavia to yakutia but not in alaska/canda/greenland)
Peccary https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peccary (new world pig relative)
New world quail https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_World_quail
Grouse https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grouse
Cracidae https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cracidae
Pronghorn https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pronghorn (second fastest land animal, but incapable of jumping)
Mountain goat https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_goat
Bighorn sheep https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bighorn_sheep
Tapir? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tapir (I don't think even the old world species has been domesticated, but if elephants could've been domesticated, I don't see why the Tapir couldn't.)
Cottontail rabbit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cottontail_rabbit
Jaguarundi? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaguarundi (about the size of a large domestic cat)
Paca https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paca
Pacarana https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacarana
Patagonian mara https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patagonian_mara
Capybara https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capybara
Pudu https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pud%C3%BA
American Bison https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_bison (I know some peole say that they are too wild to domesticate, however the Aurochs(wild cattle) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurochs were not so tame either, and I can't imagin domesticating the water buffalo was all that easy either https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_buffalo)
Rhea https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhea_(bird) (new world version of the ostrich)
New world deer https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capreolinae (I know some people say that deer are to agile to domesticate, but if it's possible with the reindeer, why not the others?)

Also there were quite a bit of large cities in mesoamerica https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesoamerica and western south america, so were these cities invested with new world rats/mice https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_World_rats_and_mice or was that just an old world thing, and the new world cities were relativly clean? And if they were infested with rats/mice, how did they deal with it, after all there were no domestic cats?

So what do you guys think, do you think if a mesopotamian/egyptian/indian/chinese person was plopped on to america thousands of years ago, do you think that they would succeed at domesticating these animals? Or would they fail just as the native americans did?
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Old 11-26-2015, 06:34 PM
 
Location: Type 0.73 Kardashev
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Simply put, the animals capable of domestication and worth domestication were domesticated.

Take bison - their tendency to attempt to kill their keepers, combined with their prodigious capacity to do so, preventing their being kept until modern containment capabilities were available. Sure, you can claim that aurochs were similar but it's not as simple as that. Here's an example - zebras, despite being of the same genus as domesticated horses, have never been domesticated, though considerable effort towards domesticating them has been expended. They simply have a temperament which prohibits it. Antelope, elk, musk ox - these and other animals have been the focus of intensive domestication efforts, to no success.

I'll make some specific comments on some of the other species you cite.

mountain goats, bighorn sheep
These animals only occur naturally where ancient humans were migratory. Not being permanently settled where those animals occurred, there was no chance to ever domesticate them.

pronghorn
Large herbivores tend to be very flighty. They don't like being corralled and tend to bash themselves to death against barriers, or simply to whither away and die due to the stress of captivity.

jaguarundi
Presumably, these would domesticate themselves, in the same way that cats are believed to have been domesticated - by individuals cats associating themselves with human settlements of camps to enjoy the scraps left by humans. But the only real benefit to humans is vermin control and as pets, the latter of which isn't really useful, and both of which really require permanent settlements. It would also require the proper temperament for the jaguarundi, which perhaps it just doesn't have.

Other problems include breeding - some animals require elaborate mating rituals that cannot be replicated in captivity, or simply refuse to mate under captive conditions (check the long and difficult history of even the most modern zoos to get cheetahs, for example, to breed). Then there's social structure - some animals need their natural group dynamic to live and breed.

In other words, to be domesticated, an animal needs to have the proper temperament for it, needs to grow fast enough to justify it, needs to provide a benefit that justifies the effort, usually needs to occur where humans have permanent settlements, needs to breed in captivity, needs to eat something that is convenient for its human keepers, needs to not regularly kill its captors, and needs to be capable of living in an unnatural captive environment. That's a long laundry list that few animals can meet.

The really useful animals either were domesticated or weren't capable of being domesticated. The more marginal ones that could have been domesticated weren't because the payoff just didn't justify the effort.

PS - Elephants have never been domesticated. Those humans use are wild animals that have been tamed. There's simply no profit in domesticating such a large animal that takes so many years before it becomes a useful beast of burden. Elephant ranchers would go bust before they'd begin to make some money back, and they'd never recoup it all.
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Old 11-26-2015, 07:12 PM
 
Location: Seattle WA, USA
5,699 posts, read 4,925,642 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unsettomati View Post
PS - Elephants have never been domesticated. Those humans use are wild animals that have been tamed. There's simply no profit in domesticating such a large animal that takes so many years before it becomes a useful beast of burden. Elephant ranchers would go bust before they'd begin to make some money back, and they'd never recoup it all.
Well I know that elephants were never fully domesticated, but they are tame enough that ancient Indians basically used them as cranes, and were used extensively in war fare. Elephants have very long life spans and make excellent beast of burden as long as you don't upset them. And again what about reindeer, they exist on both hemispheres, yet on one of them they are herded, and the other hunted. I'm sure the payoff might not have been there, but to say it couldn't happen, that's a bit of a sell, considering the large temperamental animals that humans domesticated/tamed. Also any animal is practically can be domesticated as long as you breed the most tame ones in the population https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russ...icated_Red_Fox
The one good point you brought up was if it were possible for them to mate in captivity. But I really can't see why the peccary wasn't domesticated.

Also not all animals were domesticated in large cities, for instance the horse was domesticated by nomadic people on the Ukrainian/Russian stepp. Further more the wild goat https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_goat is also lives in the mountains and not the valley floors where humans lived and as is the case for mouflon (wild sheep) https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mouflon
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Old 11-26-2015, 11:30 PM
 
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The huge herds of bison on the Great Plains weren't really that much different from free-ranging cattle.
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Old 11-27-2015, 01:00 AM
 
Location: Seattle WA, USA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deb100 View Post
The huge herds of bison on the Great Plains weren't really that much different from free-ranging cattle.
Which is kinda what I'm getting at, it's not that it was impossible, it's just easier to hunt them, then it is to tame them. But besides bison, what about the other animals?
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Old 11-27-2015, 02:17 AM
 
Location: Hanau, Germany
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The American civilizations also didn't exchange the rather few animals they domesticated. The Incas didn't know turkeys and the Aztecs didn't know llamas for example, probably due to geographical barriers. I recommend the book "Guns, Germs and Steel" by Jared Diamond on this topic.
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Old 11-27-2015, 09:06 AM
 
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Obvious candidates in North America were ducks, turkeys, grouse, prairie chickens, geese, pigeons, etc. The whole poultry family, and quite easy to domesticate in most cases. It was not for lack of available species except for beasts of burden. Probably the migrations from Asia occurred before there was any knowledge of domestication and the idea just did not occur. Certainly a missed opportunity.
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Old 11-27-2015, 09:17 AM
 
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Personally, I think almost all game, especially poultry of many kinds was so plentiful their was no need to domesticate them. We really have no idea today or an appreciation of how much wildlife was here at that time. When some species of birds would migrate, the skies would nearly turn dark, they were so plentiful.
Also we really don't know if some tribes did domesticate some animals on a small scale, since many tribes have been extinct for hundreds of years with little to no record of them.
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Old 11-27-2015, 09:25 AM
 
Location: Seattle WA, USA
5,699 posts, read 4,925,642 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marino760 View Post
Personally, I think almost all game, especially poultry of many kinds was so plentiful their was no need to domesticate them. We really have no idea today or an appreciation of how much wildlife was here at that time. When some species of birds would migrate, the skies would nearly turn dark, they were so plentiful.
Also we really don't know if some tribes did domesticate some animals on a small scale, since many tribes have been extinct for hundreds of years with little to no record of them.
Some people think that wildlife was only so plentiful when settlers got here because the apex predictor aka native Americans, were already reduced by 90%. Columbus reached the Americas in 1492 and the English didn't start settling until the 1600s. Just look at Chernobyl, before it was farmland with cities and villages, and now it's all wild, teaming with life, and that's only after 30 or so years, imagin 100 years for an entire continent.
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Old 11-27-2015, 01:45 PM
 
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I'm confused because there is documented evidence of domesticated dogs, llamas, guinea pigs, turkeys, muscovy ducks, and stingless bees in pre-Columbian America.

http://soar.wichita.edu/bitstream/ha...pdf?sequence=1
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