Archive for the ‘horse’ Category

Why grizzlies, hippos and zebras were never domesticated

January 29, 2008

I am reading Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. At this point in the book he is explaining why certain animals were never domesticated:

Bear meat is an expensive delicacy, grizzlies weigh up to 1,700 pounds, they are mainly vegetarians, their vegetable diet is very broad, they thrive on human garbage, and they grow relatively fast. If they would behave themselves in captivity, grizzlies would be a fabulous meat production animal. I am not aware of any adult that has been tamed.

Hippos, as four-ton vegetarians, would be great barnyard animals if they weren’t so dangerous. They kill more people each year than do any other African mammals, including lions.

Zebras have the unpleasant habit of biting a person and not letting go. They thereby injure more American zookeepers each year than do tigers! Zebras are also virtually impossible to lasso with a rope — even for cowboys who win rodeo championships by lassoing horses — because of their unfailing ability to watch the rope noose fly toward them and then to duck out of the way.

History: Big domestic mammals revolutionized human society by becoming our main means of land transportation

October 27, 2007

 I am reading Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond.  At this point in the book he is talking about the role that animals played in enhancing the development of society:

Big domestic mammals revolutionized human society by becoming our main means of land transportation until the development of railroads in the 19th century.  Before animal domestication, the sole means of transporting goods and people by land was on the backs of humans.  Large mammals changed that: for the first time in human history, it became possible to move heavy goods in large quantities, as well as people, rapidly overland for long distances.  The domestic animals that were ridden were the horse, donkey, yak, reindeer, and Arabian and Bactrian camels.  Cows and horses were hitched to wagons, while reindeer and dogs pulled sleds in the Arctic.  The horse became the chief means of long-distance transport over most of Eurasia.