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Sunday, December 7, 2014

5 New World Animals that were introduced to the Old World

Looking back to our history classes, we were taught about how goods were being traded from the old world, or Europe, to the new world, or the Americas. Along with goods, the traders also brought with them animals which were native to the Americas to Europe. To this day, we can see a few species of animals from the new world in certain areas of Europe and even making it to Asia.


Alpacas are native to South America and they look like a smaller version of a llama. These animals have been domesticated by south American natives of centuries, specifically in colder areas like southern Peru, Ecuador, northern Chile and northern Bolivia, even before Europeans came to the new world. Alpacas were specifically domesticated for their fur. Alpaca fiber has been used to make clothes through weaving and knitting, same as how Europeans use sheep for their wool. These items were even used by traders as barter items. Many people have been breeding Alpacas throughout the world and they can even be seen as far off as Australia.

American Mink

Although numerous groups oppose it, the fur market is still a big industry, especially in the fashion world. The American mink is one of the most common animals farmed for its fur. Originating from North America, human intervention has spread this animal’s population to Europe and South America. Since their introduction to the old world, they’ve been considered as an invasive species, linked to the declines in the population of the European mink, Water Vole, and Pyrenean desman. They’re carnivores that feed on fish, rodents, crustaceans, birds, and frogs.

Guinea Pig

Probably one of the most common new world native that got introduced to the world, Guinea Pigs have turned into adorable little house pets like the common dog or cat. They’re not really pigs, but are rodents that belong to the Caviidae family. Also called cavy, many zoologist say that because of hybridization and biochemistry, these animals don’t really naturally exist in the wild. Although Indigenous South American tribes use them as a source of food and in rituals, most Guinea Pigs are treated as pets nowadays.


Often used as a beast of burden, Llamas carry the heavy load of the people who live in Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, and Chile. Llamas are also used as a meat source as well as harvested for their fur which is made into clothing. These animals are very intelligent and easy to train. In fact, they can actually be trained to guard and protect livestock like a herding dog. Usually, a single, castrated male is trained for the job.


We’ve had our fair share of turkey sandwiches and even roasted turkey during special events. Even though this bird is commonly being served in European tables, it actually originated in the Americas. They got their name from the country Turkey because the settlers thought that this giant bird was some kind of guinea fowl which is very common there. However, turkeys actually belong to the Meleagris genus.

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