From senator-bedfellow.mit.edu!enterpoop.mit.edu!world!decwrl!netcomsv!netcom.com!mbondr Wed Jun 16 13:17:20 EDT 1993
Article: 120 of alt.guinea.pig.conspiracy
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Path: senator-bedfellow.mit.edu!enterpoop.mit.edu!world!decwrl!netcomsv!netcom.com!mbondr
From: mbondr@netcom.com (Mark Bondurant)
Subject: Early Man and the Guinea Pig
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Organization: NETCOM On-line Communication Services (408 241-9760 guest)
Date: Sun, 13 Jun 1993 15:35:09 GMT
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"Early Man and the Guinea Pig"
by Mark Bondurant and Stacy Gordon
mbondr@netcom.com
 
 
        The earliest evidence of early man's involvement with 
the Guinea Pig involved the airborne aspects of the 
primordial Guinea Pig.  Primitive apes perhaps first 
encountered Guinea Pigs as they grubbed for roots in the 
underbrush of the antediluvian forests.  Tossing them aside 
(no small feat as early Guinea Pigs weighed over 40 pounds) 
they continued digging.  Eventually someone realized that 
their round shape gave them amazing aerodynamic qualities 
and their razor sharp incisors, formerly a nuisance made a 
terrific weapon.  Evidence of Guinea Pigs embedded in the 
sides of fossil trees gives credence to their use as weapons
of war and hunting.  This evidence of man's relationship 
with these early hunting pigs predates the earliest evidence
of domestic dogs by over 5000 years.  Even today there are 
still examples of this hunting relationship to be found in 
the wilds of northern Siberia and in many college dorms.
        It was across the Siberia-Alaska land bridge that the 
early pig found it's way to the Americas.  It is a little
known fact that the Buffalo is a relative of the common 
household Guinea Pig.  Indian legends of "Little Pig", 
friend of Coyote, who gave man the gift of celery and 
lettuce, abound in Indian culture.  The Little Pig mythos is 
a common theme throughout the Americas.  Few examples of pig 
totems are known though, as their small size makes them hard 
to find.
        Many examples of Guinea Pigs can be found in both Aztec 
and Mayan art.  The Aztecs believed that the city of 
Tenochtitlan, present day Mexico City was built on the back 
of a wallowing Guinea Pig.  Greens were banned inside the 
city for fear that the Great Pig might be aroused and the earth 
would quake.  The loss of greens as sacrifices to the Great Pig 
were so great the entire empire fell due to constipation.   
Guinea Pigs were used both in combat and play.  The 
Conquistadors brought back horrific tales telling of the 
dreadful squeal of the Mayan battle pigs as they were thrown 
into battle.  The Codex Mendoza displays a fine example of a 
game where pigs were tossed through hoops attached to the 
sides of a large square court.
        Early attempts at European colonization of the Americas 
were foiled when gifts of sacred pigs from local tribes were 
promptly by the newcomers.  These colonists were slaughtered.  
The lack of Guinea Pigs in Europe is primarily due to this habit 
of "Guinebalism", the eating of Guinea Pigs.  Ancient tales of 
St. Patrick, who drove the Guinea Pigs from Ireland for their 
safety and replaced them with the potato, can still be heard in 
taverns.  The last pig in England was known to have been eaten 
by Queen Elizabeth the First.  It is written that she remarked that 
it was a bit "anemic" as she tucked in.
        Ancient examples of belt pouches and pig flutes, made 
from the whole hides of Guinea Pigs, have been found in caves 
in Germany.  The German Pig Flute and its successor, the bag 
pipe, are unique in the history of man.  In the case of the pig 
flute an entire Guinea Pig hide was sewn together into more or 
less the original shape of the pig from which it was taken.  A 
small reed was then inserted into the anus.  The musician then 
inflated the skin through the mouth.  Holding the mouth closed 
and squeezing the skin caused the flute to emit its characteristic 
"skreee skreee" sound.  Villagers in the Alps still use these 
instruments to communicate across vast distances as the 
sound echoes nicely down the canyons.
        Until it's reimportation from the east, the Guinea Pig 
was extinct in Europe centuries before the expansion of the 
Roman Empire.  The Arabs were forced to import them from 
China.  Desert Pigs have always played a vital role in man's 
survival in the Sahara Desert.  Their uncanny ability to home 
in on greenery and to burrow have saved many a caravan.  
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were designed to house 
the court pigs.  The Greeks named the constellation "Grunties" 
after the pig Grunta, sent by Athena to warn the them of the 
impending invasion by Persia.
        Ancient Egyptians and Kushites trained the Tailed 
Pig to fish.  Rocks were tied to the pigs so that they could 
submerge and small nooses were tied around their necks 
so that they could be retrieved.  The nooses allowed the 
pigs to only hold their catches in their mouths, but not to 
swallow.  The fishermen dragged the pigs back and kept two 
out of every three fish.  The Ancient Tailed Pig is now 
extinct due to the greed of the Chinese pharmacist.  The tails 
were prized for their curative powers and high vitamin C 
content.
        Caravans between the Middle East and China were 
plagued by the Abominable Snow Pig as they passed 
through the mountains of Nepal.  White furred, they 
traveled in packs, sliding across the snow on their bellies.  
They would attack caravans to get at the feed of the pack 
animals.  This proved to be such a great nuisance that the 
Great Kahn himself decreed that elephants should be sent 
with the pack trains through the passes just to trample the 
little "vermin". This tactic proved to be largely ineffective 
and to this day climbers in Tibet still claim to hear the shrill 
squeak of the Abominable Snow Pig before major avalanches 
and rock falls.
        Guinea Pigs, by way of their amazing swimming 
ability, managed to spread south from China to Indonesia, 
New Guinea (named after these amazing animals), and finally 
to Australia, where they established strong footholds.  But 
never to Japan.  This is perhaps due to the swift currents in 
the Sea of Japan, or perhaps they never managed to gain a 
significant presence there because of their resemblance to 
some forms of sushi.  The natives in the New Zealand 
highlands call them "cavy-pell-ets", which translates as 
"sweet little legless apes".
        Their origin is still a mystery.  They are officially 
categorized as "mammals", but only temporarily.  There is 
a great deal of debate over their official status.  United 
Nations Resolution 112-93, if passed will create a new 
species category - porcus guineas tuberous.  Doctor Bjorn 
Sagaberg of the Mars Vin Institute, a center for Guinea Pig 
study in Sweden argues strongly for an extraterrestrial origin 
for the Guinea Pig.  Their lack of viable ancestors (this has 
been backed by laborious genetic testing) and their 
appearance twenty thousand years ago in Siberia at the 
site of a large meteor strike, argue strongly for a Venusian 
origin.
        Venusian or not, they are unarguably one of man's 
greatest allies.  There can be no doubt that the pig-man 
relationship has lasted tens of thousands of years.  It's 
benefits are seen all around us.  How could we have built 
our great cities, highways, and technology without the help 
of the "little ones".  As both races grow we can only wish 
that it lasts ten thousand more.