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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/692

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

to a savage and primitive life in a stone age, if he has not command of domestic animals and cultivated plants; from the beginning of human progress comfort of living has "borne a relation to the number of domesticated species; and it was by importing their animals and plants, or by acclimatation, that advanced peoples made conquests and colonizations in lands occupied by primitive man. In such cases the natives generally give way before the conquerors.

To the nine animals primarily acclimated in Europe, there were added in the age of the Greeks, by domestication, the goose, bee, and pigeon, and by acclimatation the peacock and the guinea-fowl. In the Roman period the rabbit and duck were domesticated, and the ferret was introduced. After that there were no additions to the domestic fauna till the sixteenth century, when the guinea-pig, American duck, and turkey were acclimated from America. Notwithstanding the small number of acquisitions in this long period, the domestic animals and cultivated plants of Europe were the prime cause of a considerable gradual augmentation in the comfort of the population. They have been brought to a high degree of perfection, corresponding with the growing extent of our wants, and have been subjected to some remarkable modifications, under the new science of zo├Âtechnics; a process of transformation which is still continuous and will never be completed. Species have been divided up to meet the requirements of varied wants, so that one has been made competent to give the service that might be demanded of two, three, and four species. Thus, in horses, we have the riding horse, which can walk, pace, trot, or gallop; the cart horse, which can pull a heavy load at a walk; the stage horse, drawing a lighter load, with a fair degree of speed; and the carriage horse, which travels with speed and elegance of gait. Could the horse have rendered us such a variety of services if he had been left in a wild state? This question is not a gratuitous supposition. The half-wild horses imported* a few years ago from the Argentine Republic were of little value, because they had not been fitted, by ancestral training, to perform the various duties required of them.

Instead of increasing the number of species, we have developed varieties within the species, each adapted to a special work. The Laplander has one reindeer, that clothes, feeds, and draws him; we have four or five horses, for the purposes of transportation alone. We have also got animals intermediate between two species.

It is thus found that the material comfort of a people depends much on the animal and vegetable products it possesses, on their variety as well as on their abundance. The variety of animal