Colombia: Americas and Old World Essay

Submitted By Redwolf915
Words: 1156
Pages: 5

“The final years of the fifteenth century, which witnessed the sea voyages of Christopher
Columbus and Vasco da Gama, mark for many scholars the beginning of an age of globalization that has culminated in the emergence of the intensively interconnected world of today” (Boivin 452). In 1492, Christopher Columbus and his brave men sailed the ocean blue. On October 11 of that same year, Columbus was sailing on the Santa Maria and saw something in the distance. Rodrigo de Triana saw land a few hours later while serving as lookout on the Pinta. In the morning, Europeans set foot on the Bahamas. October 12, 1492 became a famous day in world history. From this day forward, both worlds, Old and New, became connected and irreversibly changed. “The two worlds, which God had cast asunder, were reunited, and the two worlds, which were so very different, began on that day to look alike. The trend toward biological homogeneity is one of the most important aspects of the history of life on this planet since the retreat of the continental glaciers” (Crosby 3). The face of planet Earth changed forever due to the fateful explorers. These explorers of European descent thought they were in India. They were dumbstruck by these new and odd flora and fauna inhabiting these new lands. Records kept by Columbus stated: “I saw neither sheep nor goats nor any other beast, but I have been here but a short time, half a day; yet if there were any I couldn’t have failed to see them…” (Crosby 4). Columbus started to suspect something was amiss, but until his death he held steadfast that he had landed in Asia. “There were dogs that never barked…” (Crosby 4). Columbus recognized this mammal, but it’s obviously different and strange. “All the trees were as different from ours as day from night, and so the fruits, the herbage, the rocks and all things” (Crosby 4). At this point it was clear as day to Columbus that he had arrived in a very new world.
The differences between the organisms of the Old and New worlds have fascinated people since the fateful arrival. “Most nonbotanists are inclined to pay more attention to animals than plants, so the contrast between the flora of the eastern and western hemispheres has never excited as much interest as that between fauna, but the contrast is a marked one” (Crosby 4). This however is not an absolute observation. Over four hundred species of plants are indigenous to Japan and North America. However Crosby insists that the uniqueness of American flora be recognized. Cacti are only found in the Americas even though they are a common depiction of nearly every desert in the media. There have been hundreds of years of contact between the Americas as the rest of the world. Due to these events about eighteen percent of the flora growing in northeast America is foreign to the land.
The pre-Columbian farmers domesticated these American food plants from a plethora of wild plants. These plants were very different from those that Old world inventors developed. Many of the early colonists of Virginia admitted that the flora was outlandish and difficult. These differences become wilder as one looks to the south. Jean de Lery was a member of the French colony in Rio de Janeiro. In 1550 he found only three plants he was familiar with. These plants were basil, purslane and a type of fern. The differences between Old world and New world fauna has amazed anyone that has crossed the Pacific Ocean or the Atlantic Ocean. Some species are found in both worlds. This usually only holds true in northern areas. In South America the biggest indigenous quadruped is the tapir. This animal also lives in Southeast Asia, but it’s not very large compared to the other animals there such as the elephant or tiger. The jaguar is an easily identifiable animal in the tropical area of South America, but it is much smaller and the lion or tiger. The explorers of the Americas pondered upon the lack of stature that native…