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Unformatted text preview: able to interbreed with them3,22. The key question concerning this selectivity of domestication is as follows: in the cases of all those species never domesticated, did the difficulty lie with the species itself, or with the people indigenous to the area to which the species was native? For instance, is the abundance of large wild mammals the reason why no mammal species was ever domesticated in subequatorial Africa, making domestication superfluous for Africans? If that explanation were correct, then African people should also have ignored Eurasian domestic mammals when those were finally introduced to Africa, and European animal breeders on arriving in Africa should have succeeded in domesticating some African wild mammals, but both of those predictions are refuted by the actual course of history. Six independent lines of evidence1 converge to prove that, in most cases, the obstacle lay with the species itself, not with the local people: the rapid acceptance of introduced Eurasian domesticates by non-Eurasian peoples; the rapid ancient domestication of the most valuable wild species; the repeated independent domestications of many of them; the failure of even modern European plant and animal breeders to add significantly to our short list of valuable domesticates; ancient discoveries of the value of thousands of species that were regularly harvested in the wild but that never became domesticated; and the identification of the particular reasons preventing the domes...
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- Fall '08