Isn't Europe lucky!

According to JaredDiamond Europe has a number of happy medium co-incidences.

  • 1) it has geographical boundaries like mountains and sea inlets which are not enough to prevent knowledge of agriculture and writing from perculating through, but enough to prevent political unification and intellectual monoculture.
  • 2) as part of Eurasia, people encountered large animals at just the right time. Not early enough for the animals to evolve to be fierce and undomesticable, but early enough for animals to evolve not to be driven extinct.

Eh? Does this mean that had we discovered them later, all animals would have been fierce and unwieldy? Why put it down to chance? How about a continuous range of fierce & evolved animals, as well as other factors such as environment? (e.g. Harsher environments would make animals "harder", as well as push humans away, while softer environments would attract both humans and (other) "softer" animals. – GrahamLally

No, the opposite. If we'd discovered them later (or rather they'd encountered us later) we'd have slaughtered them very quickly, as in Australia, North and South America. Of course, I'm speculating wildly that the reason animals in Africa are undomesticable by humans is because we've been together longer. Diamond doesn't say this. All he says is that animals in Africa have proved impossible to domesticate (largely due to their ferocity.)

But think of humans as a kind of parasite on domesticable animals, then you'd expect a longer exposure to breed some kinds of resistance to us.

What is an "inherantly" harsh environment? Hotter? Colder? Dryer? More humid? Seems like lions and polar bears are both pretty dangerous. I guess big, dangerous animals need there to be a lot of food around. (So deserts and arid mountains are out.) But apart from that I think it's the environment of other animals which would make the difference.


Will Europe survive? Contrast DemographicsAndTheDustbinOfHistory