Saturday, August 27, 2011

Would things be different?

I doubt that it matters a whole lot whether human evolution began in Mesoamerica or in Africa pertaining to animal domestication. Diamond writes in pages 168-175 the reasons for there being only 14 ancient species that were domesticated were: Diet, growth rate, mating habits, disposition, reactions to danger, and social hierarchy.
In class we discussed that had humans evolved in Mesoamerica as opposed to Africa, then the animals of African descent wouldn't have evolved alongside humans and therefore wouldn't see them as a danger. Thus, it would have been much easier to domesticate some of the animals from Africa. However, I don't think that the presence or absence of humans would have a drastic affect on the African animal's reaction to danger or their nasty disposition. There were 51 species in Africa that could have potentially been domesticated, but many had an instinct to panic and try to get away (such as gazelles) or to always be aggressive and unpredictable (such as buffaloes) . Yes, this could have been in part the fault of human's hunting, but there were 50 other species whose hunting contributed to these species's nasty dispositions or instinct to panic. So if humans had slowly moved from Mesoamerica to Africa, the animals there would still be impossible to domesticate.
It also wouldn't have mattered whether humans evolved in Mesoamerica or Africa first because they would have still domesticated plants around the same time as the real course of history. In Mesoamerica it wouldn't make sense to domesticate plants because they didn't have very many to choose from and those they did have would either take too long or not produce enough for everyone. Since they couldn't take that first step and domesticate plants, they wouldn't have anything to sustain an animal's diet. It wouldn't be until they got to Eurasia and found plants that could be easily domesticated, that humans could begin to domesticate animals.
I think there wouldn't be much change in how societies would develop over the course of history if they had evolved in Mesoamerica or in Africa, because in either situations they would have to wait until they reached Eurasia to begin to domesticate animals


  1. I agree with you. I don't believe that much would have changed if instead we had evolved in Mesoamerica and spread from there. It doesn't really matter where its the people that had the better geography that would have advanced. And in our case it is always going to be the Eurasia. They had the Fertile Crescent that allowed them to discover crop production and they discovered the use of animals as labor workers because of the crops that they produced. Like Diamond said it all has to do will the animals growing and evolving next to the humans. And always the people that are more privileges will get better things, and that just turned out to be the Eurasian people.

  2. Well, Eurasia and Africa did have a higher number of big herbivores. This was a good thing because it's easier to feed these animals. If humans in Africa would try to domesticate lions, they would be faced with the danger of being killed and would also have to raise other, smaller animals to feed the lions. This area of the world was fortunate because the Fertile Crescent was an excellent place to grow crops. The climate here also made it relatively easier to being farming and domesticating animals (herbivores) because there was an abundance of plants. In Mesoamerica, however, the plants were not as solely nutritious enough to support a village or large amounts of animals.

  3. I partly agree and disagree with both of you; I do believe that changing where we evolved from would change our timing in animal domestication. One thing I disagree with Liszette is that animals in Africa knew to avoid humans, partly because animals and humans evolved together thus making the animals aware of who to avoid, making them harder to domesticate. Now that's when I agree with Angelica;I too acknowledge what Diamond expresses about the coherent timing of evolution in animals and humans. With that been said, I think that if we were to have evolved from Mesoamerica it would have effected our timing in animal domestication. For example, in Mesoamerica the animals were different for one; the weren't as big or "meaty" as the ones found in Africa. Another factor that would have affected this would have been (like liszette said) to domesticate an animal you must also have the resources to maintain it. In mesoamerica, according to Diamond,it wasn't at all ready for plants either. Trying to farm corn, for example, would have been disastrous; the timing would have been the worst and the soil was in bad condition. I think that Mesoamerica in general would have made it harder to accomplish both plant domestication and animal domestication any faster than in Africa.

  4. I enjoyed how you stated that it is difficult to domesticate many animals in Africa. Even in modern times, it is still difficult to domesticate many of these wild animals. So if humans can’t domesticate many of these animals in modern times, then it was less likely to domesticate them in the past with primitive technology. With this said, it was then a better idea not to bother trying to domesticate some of these animals.