The Importance Of Large, Domesticatable Animals.

1094 words - 5 pages

Diamond’s strongest argument for which natural advantage aided Eurasian societies the most is the location of large, domesticable animals. Eurasia had by far the most domesticable, large animals. In fact, “13 of the Ancient Fourteen [large, domesticable animals] (including all the Major Five) were confined to Eurasia” (Guns, Germs, and Steel, 161). Compared to only one in The Americas and zero in Australia and Sub-Saharan Africa. The reason for domesticable animals being the greatest advantage derives from the many uses large animals provide. These uses include food and clothing production, transportation, and use in warfare. These services combine to be more useful than any other single natural advantage.
The first and probably most useful service large animals provide is food and clothing production. Large animals are beneficial for “furnishing meat, milk, and fertilizer and by pulling plows” (Guns, Germs, and Steel, 88). Of the 14 domesticated, large animals, 13 of them are herbivores, with the pig being an omnivore (Guns, Germs, and Steel, 160). By having domesticated herbivores, despite the fact that “The conversion of food biomass into consumer’s biomass involves an efficiency… [Of] around 10 percent” (Guns, Germs, and Steel, 169) they still convert otherwise nearly useless plants, such as grass, into nourishing meat or milk. The meat is especially useful because it is high in protein, a nutrient that can be deficient in a diet that doesn’t consist of domesticated animals. On the other hand, milk can provide a steady intake of calories. Furthermore, “domestic mammals interacted with domestic plants to increase food production by pulling plows and thereby making it possible for people to till land that had previously been uneconomical for farming” (Guns, Germs, and Steel, 88). So in addition to being able to till land more quickly, animals also allowed societies to produce agriculture on land that they otherwise couldn’t use. The caloric output from domesticated animals via meat, milk, and plowing saves the person using them time and effort while generating a consistent stream of food, compared to the inconsistent intake a hunter-gatherer might acquire. Similarly, the fur of an alpaca or the leather from a cow can be used for a plethora of uses. The “livestock yield natural fibers for making clothing, blankets, nets and rope” (Guns, Germs, and Steel, 90). By having domesticated large animals such as llamas or sheep, a person can rely on regular, generous amounts of wool or fur for clothing. Were it not for these domesticated animals, a person would have to spend additional time hunting or raising smaller animals to provide the needed fur. Ultimately, using large, domesticated animals for the production of food and clothing saves a culture that employs them a significant amount of effort.
The second useful task that large domesticated animals perform is transportation. By employing the use of a horse for transportation, the speed of...

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