As the chapter begins; “domesticable animals are all alike, every undomesticable animal is undomesticable in its own way,” do we get to see the parody of the first sentence in Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina; “happy families are all alike, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” It may not sound similar, but Diamond, the author, is pointing out how we define success and failure in general. You may call it the Anna Karenina principle, but while progress narrows to a specific list of events, he describes failure like everything else. In this case, animals symbolized people living with other people in a life-long commitment.
Perhaps what interested the author the most was the Anna Karenina principle when he points out that his work relates to marriages. Through symbolism, the author expressed his reason that some animals were domesticated merely because they met some form of criteria such as growing too fast and the tendency to kill people. As critical as it may be, this comparison does hit the bull’s eye. Both marriages and domesticated animals have to be agreed upon since they had to live with each other for a long time. Humans cannot live together if they lack factors that bind them together. Similarly, animals cannot be domesticated if they have a tendency of killing humans and cannot be tamed.
Apart from symbolizing his work to marriage, Diamond also wanted to explain the rise of civilization and cultures. In this chapter, a few of the world’s large animals can be domesticated. While previous episodes talked about plants, domestication of animals particularly large mammals proved to be beneficial with plowing, war, source of food and skin, as well as transport. Out of 14 large domesticated mammals, humans domesticated 13 of them originated in Eurasia. This further meant that human domesticated large animals since 2500 BC. However, not every civilization developed along its line of animals they used to subdue. Most continents such as Africa lost most of the suitable animal candidates for domestication.
In the chapter, the author first talks about how domesticable animals are bred to be docile around human beings. Strangely, we have only domesticated a few animals have when compared to the number of plants. He then explained that wild animals could be found all over but not at an equal measure. For instance, there was only one sizeable domesticated mammal in South America from which the alpaca and llama descended from. Strangely also, there are many wild animals in Africa but just a few large domesticated mammals. Therefore, Africa had limited agriculture due to the geographic spread.
While Europe domesticated horses, Africa did not domesticate Zebras yet they are almost similar. Every geographical region was naturally endowed differently with Europe having many large domesticated animals that other places. As a result, Europe became more civilized rapidly with regards to animal domestication as compared to other parts of the world. Consequences that followed later saw a huge tendency in animal domestication among Europeans when compared to different regions such as Africa. Furthermore, the social trend of having pets further led to animal domestication. However, technology has rapidly taken over animal use leaving majority of the large animals without use. Also, modern domestication of other animals is not easy.