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Guns, Germs, and Steel

by Jared Diamond

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Student Question

What three animals did the Polynesians domesticate according to Guns, Germs, and Steel?

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The answer to this question can be found in Chapter 2.  It is on page 60 in the paperback edition of the book.

There were only three domesticated animals that were brought to the islands by the ancestral Polynesians.  These were the pig, the chicken, and the dog.  Polynesians never domesticated any other animals on the islands they colonized, largely because there were no other large animals on most of those islands.  In fact, some Polynesian islands did not even have these three animals because the long voyages to get to those islands made it impossible to get animals there or to replace them if they died.

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According to Guns, Germs, and Steel, what were the staple domesticated animals of the Polynesians?

The answer to this can be found in Chapter 2 of Guns, Germs, and Steel.  In that chapter, Jared Diamond is discussing the ways in which various Polynesian societies managed to subsist.  He is talking about what sorts of plants and animals they had and what sorts of islands they lived on.  On p. 60 in the paperback edition of the book, Diamond tells us that the Polynesians, at best, did not have very many animals at all.  In fact, they only had three domesticated animals that they brought with them as they colonized the islands.  They did not find any more animals that could be domesticated on those islands.

The three domesticated animals that the Polynesians had were pigs, chickens, and dogs.  However, it is not as if each island had all three of these.  One or more animals did not survive some of the voyages to various islands.  For example, New Zealand only had dogs and Easter Island only had chickens.

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