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Questions tagged [animals]

For questions about historical practices or events related to non-human animals, including their use by humans, breeding, domestication, hunting, or consumption.

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Were trained crocodiles used as a weapon in the Battle of Saraighat?

There is a youtube video about The Ahom Kingdom. It generally sounds fairly well researched and makes only one obvious extraordinary claim. In describing the Battle of Saraighat (1671) the following ...
User65535's user avatar
  • 197
17 votes
1 answer
2k views

Have there been any plausible reports of killing polar bears with a bone spring?

A user of a different stack exchange site recently mentioned a supposed polar bear killing technique devised by Inuit hunters. I found it quite difficult to find any other source for the story, but ...
Starfish Prime's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
235 views

What infectious diseases were Native Americans exposed to before Columbus?

More specifically, what infectious diseases were Native Americans exposed to that were not a result of endemic spread in wild animals in the Americas? This would be a list of diseases that were ...
StarlightDown's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
322 views

Is it true that some early modern Europeans refused to believe giraffes existed?

I remember reading or hearing somewhere that some of the first Europeans to see a giraffe in Europe refused to believe that such a creature could really exist. Presumably they thought the giraffe(s) ...
Tim's user avatar
  • 29
2 votes
1 answer
529 views

How were Mercy Dogs of WWI and WWII trained to know which soldier is from their side and which one isn't?

So, I have been reading about the Mercy Dogs of WWI and WWII. I was wondering, how did they actually train dogs to know which soldier belonged to their 'side', and which soldier belonged to the 'enemy ...
Tsar Asterov XVII's user avatar
-2 votes
1 answer
426 views

Why did China hate dogs? Why were dogs abject creatures in China?

I quote page 240 in Yuan-tsung Chen's 2008 Return to the Middle Kingdom | One Family, Three Revolutionaries, and the Birth of Modern China. This quote flummoxes me! I have a pet dog! I live in a ...
user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
152 views

Besides the Hebrews, were there any other ancient cults that used salt in animal sacrifices?

The Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 2:13) stipulates that all animal sacrifices must have salt. I was wondering if we find such a phenomenon of requiring salt in the cultic rituals of any other society in ...
Reb Chaim HaQoton's user avatar
-2 votes
1 answer
862 views

How did gladiators/assyrians kill large predators in single combat?

Bears & lions & other megafauna are super powerful and dangerous animals, even many smaller caliber guns can't pierce their skin. They're also too fast and too strong to easily subdue with ...
user52024's user avatar
  • 105
4 votes
0 answers
183 views

Was there an official order on ships' cats per vessel?

In the funny, but still (I assume) historically accurate material about "The history of Ships Cats", the author states that "many navies had standing order for minimum acceptable number ...
Yasskier's user avatar
  • 3,360
-1 votes
2 answers
438 views

Were beaches red with lobsters upon arrival of Columbus?

I remember reading somewhere that upon arrival in Hispaniola, Columbus found beaches that were so plentiful with lobsters that they appeared red. It is possible I read this in a book by Bill Bryson, ...
Manfredo's user avatar
  • 115
19 votes
1 answer
3k views

What are all fantastic creatures on The Nile mosaic of Palestrina?

The Nile mosaic of Palestrina is a mosaic originally constructed in the ancient Roman age, in Palestrina in Italia. It depicts an imaginary scene from Egypt, showing various fantastical animals, such ...
b_jonas's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
438 views

Did the Yamnaya have a particular breed of dog? Did that breed spread with them?

Using domesticated horses and wheeled wagons, the Yamnaya seemed to have conquered, if not amalgamated with, people from the Iberian Peninsula to the Indian subcontinent. Is there any research on ...
DBWeinstein's user avatar
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1 vote
0 answers
210 views

Were there historical efforts to train apes to do the work of enslaved humans?

I remember once reading something that suggested that in the Victorian era, there were failed efforts to raise apes to perform menial field labor and replace enslaved humans. Supposedly the hand grip/...
DWKraus's user avatar
  • 135
1 vote
1 answer
158 views

Which ancient cults would cut out the hearts of live animals and offer them as sacrifices?

Which ancient cults would cut out the hearts of live animals and offer them as sacrifices? The Mishnah (Avodah Zarah 2:3) mentions a concept called עורות לבובין which Maimonides and other commentators ...
Reb Chaim HaQoton's user avatar
18 votes
1 answer
7k views

What is the oldest recorded cat name?

Since the definition of cat falls under the name Felidae I will specify my question to the domesticated cat (Felis catus). These days almost all domesticated cats have a name given to them by their ...
Tom Sol's user avatar
  • 2,237
6 votes
0 answers
257 views

What were the contemporary European reactions of de Vlamingh's sightings of black swans?

Willem de Vlamingh is reportedly the first European to have seen black swans near modern-day Perth, Western Australia in 1697. The 'black swan' had existed in Europe as a metaphor for about fifteen ...
gktscrk's user avatar
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86 votes
3 answers
16k views

What is the first recorded dog name?

Dogs have an age-old relationship with humans, and nowadays almost all dogs have a name given to them. In Homer's Odyssey (8th century BCE), upon Odysseus' return, his beloved dog Argos is the only ...
Tom Sol's user avatar
  • 2,237
13 votes
2 answers
2k views

How "successful" were WWII pigeon-guided missiles?

In World War II, a prototype missile guidance system was developed in Project Pigeon, whereby a pigeon's pecks (or pecks by multiple pigeons) would be used to guide a missile. Test runs were ...
Rebecca J. Stones's user avatar
-1 votes
1 answer
347 views

What were the characteristics of the earliest varieties of European cattle, "bos tauros", and how were they kept?

I know that all modern cattle, whether they are bos tauros or not, are descended from aurochs, and that aurochs were allowed to mix with early domesticated cattle several times. I want to know more ...
LuminousNutria's user avatar
13 votes
3 answers
1k views

How would one muzzle a full grown polar bear in the 13th century?

In his answer to a recent question on whether there had been a Viking Exchange between Europe and the Americas, LangLangC brings up that the King of Norway offered a polar bear to Henry the 3rd in ...
Denis de Bernardy's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
821 views

What evidence do we have to claim the Ancient Romans kept African grey parrots as pets?

The book Birds: Myth, Lore and Legend by Rachel Warren Chadd and Marianne Taylor states: [...] The Ancient Romans, who kept both Rose-ringed Parakeets and African Greys (Psittacus erithacus), ..., ...
Vincenzo Oliva's user avatar
3 votes
3 answers
719 views

What is Street’s Jorrocks?

In the book “All Hell Let Loose” by Max Hastings, the writer mentions about the condition of British farmers during WWII: "Wiltshire farmer Arthur Street ploughed up his grassland as the government ...
Noeshel 's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
255 views

Was slaughtering cows in Kamchatka prohibited in the 1820s?

In To the Pacific and Arctic with Beechey: The Journal of Lieutenant George Peard of HMS Blossom, 1825–1828, Peard claims that in Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka, "nearly every family possesses a Cow (...
user avatar
20 votes
1 answer
907 views

Did horse sacrifice persist in Christian Europe?

While researching the Indo-European horse sacrifice, I happened upon the following claim online: Although the papal ban seems to have greatly reduced the consumption of horseflesh in most of Europe, ...
Nick Nicholas's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
122 views

What did Boston shoemakers do with cattle brands?

In the Mexican era, whole cattle hides were California's principal export. To prevent theft law enforcement sometimes checked the brands on hides before they were exported by sailing ship. Most went ...
user avatar
11 votes
2 answers
2k views

How widespread was the consumption of rabbit meat by the poor in Medieval and Early-Modern Britain?

The Romans raised rabbits as livestock in Spain in the 2nd century BC and later brought them to Britain. French monks are believed to have domesticated them in the 5th century AD for their meat and ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
13 votes
3 answers
2k views

How extensive and developed was the ancient Kushite (Nubian) horse trade?

In 1997 there was a fascinating paper published called The Horses of Kush by Lisa A. Heidorn in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies which summarized some finds about the popularity of horses from Kush ...
SeligkeitIstInGott's user avatar
4 votes
3 answers
241 views

Six bulls for ship's provisions

The Ortega family at Rancho Refugio did a brisk business in clandestine trade with visiting ships. According to Katherine Plummer, in March of 1815, the Forester stopped there and loaded firewood, ...
user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
228 views

Was the Seven Years’ War the first time dogs were used to carry messages?

The use of messenger dogs during World War I by both sides is well-attested to, but they were also used by Frederick the Great during the Seven Years’ War. Wikipedia says he is reportedly the first ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
12 votes
1 answer
983 views

Were groups (or 'companies') of dogs used to attack enemy armies in medieval battles?

In Dogs in warfare and The Dogs of War, a number of examples are given where dogs were used in battle in ancient times. Polyaenus, in ‘Stratagems’, also gives a clear example (late 7th century BC): ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
4 votes
6 answers
830 views

What was the largest place to be named after a specific, individual animal (i.e. not a species)?

Not so many individual, non-human animals have been immortalized in place names. Often those were about animals known only as remains, as in Dead Horse Glen, but some living animals, named or unnamed, ...
user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
95 views

Spanish colonial cattle ranching cultures

Many Iberian colonists in the viceroyalties of New Spain (Mexico) and La Plata (Argentina) practiced cattle ranching. Both sides practiced branding and rode horses to control their herds. Many of the ...
user avatar
18 votes
1 answer
2k views

When did Aurochs (large wild cattle) become extinct in Britain?

Estimated to average around 150cm (cows) and 170cm (bulls) at the shoulder, the aurochs was an important animal to humans, during prehistory when it was widely hunted, and in some areas also ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
1k views

When was the last bull & bear fight in California?

In 1700s and 1800s California, a popular form of entertainment was a fight to the death between a bull and a grizzly bear, either tied together or tied to a post. (This practice may have been Horace ...
user avatar
3 votes
3 answers
657 views

What was the reason for the ubiquitous pigeon farms in Soviet cities?

They were in just any district.
Anixx's user avatar
  • 32.7k
6 votes
1 answer
2k views

Did the ancient Egyptians dress living cats in jewelry?

Ancient Egyptians worshiped animals, and cats were one of the most popular objects of said worship. I know that they would dress up cat statues in jewelry, but did they dress their cats in jewelry ...
jeln's user avatar
  • 163
3 votes
3 answers
1k views

How did horses become animals of fancy while donkeys largely didn't?

Horses seem to be a much more common sight in so-called "developed" (or rather "heavily mechanized") countries than donkeys are while the latter seem to be still quite popular in many "developing" ...
errantlinguist's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
143 views

How many cattle were slaughtered in Alta California?

Spanish and Mexican Alta California was a primarily cattle-based economy. The wealth of ranchers was measured in the size of their herd. Beef, manteca, and leather were used liberally, and hide and ...
user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
973 views

What is the source for the Arabic name of the penguin and when it is first used?

During Vasco da Gama's trip to the south of Africa, they discovered birds never seen by European eyes before which became named as penguins in most of the European languages. But in the Arabic ...
Mr.lock's user avatar
  • 1,061
15 votes
0 answers
449 views

Are there any references to entombed animals in ancient India?

The 13th century Hindu philosopher Arulnandi Shivacharya wrote a work called the Shiva Jnana Siddhiyar, which among other things contains a refutation of Buddhist philosophy. In this excerpt, various ...
Keshav Srinivasan's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
370 views

What were whale brains used for?

In 1818 the Chief Manager of the Russian-American Company, Hagemeister, wrote to his subordinate manager Potorochin: When sperm whales are cast up try to collect the teeth. Send the brains here in ...
user avatar
-3 votes
4 answers
296 views

How does the cost-benefit relationship of owning a horse differ today from the Middle Ages or Early Industrial Revolution?

If I were to be gifted a horse nowadays, I would've been angry. I would have to spend a lot of money in its food, in a blacksmith for horseshoes, grooming, cleaning his box, the rent of his box, extra ...
Oak's user avatar
  • 233
2 votes
0 answers
2k views

What kind of bird is Horus? [closed]

Recently I was reading Brugsch's History of Egypt and he describes the figure of Horus as being that of a "sparrowhawk". Now, I have the greatest respect for Brugsch and consider him the best ...
Tyler Durden's user avatar
  • 37.8k
9 votes
1 answer
1k views

Bears on Bicycles - What are early examples of photographs or paintings showing bicycles used with animals in circus acts?

Bicycles became popular during the early to mid-nineteenth-century. Around the same time, Isaac A. Van Amburgh was active as the first circus wild animal trainer. When did the practice of training ...
Tommy Vernieri's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
451 views

What did the Scott expedition feed their ponies?

During Robert Scott's British Antarctic Expedition (1910-1913), they used ponies in many cases to haul supplies across the ice. What exactly did the ponies eat? I've found many references to the ...
Joe's user avatar
  • 10.4k
2 votes
4 answers
1k views

When did the earliest documented cases of beaching of ocean-dwelling animals (fishes, whales, etc) happen?

I was looking into possible effects from toxic chemicals introduced in the industry and to what degree these may be a factor in the beaching of whales and other ocean dwelling animals. So with this ...
user avatar
6 votes
4 answers
513 views

How were cattle cut out in the 19th century?

In the largest cattle raising countries - Australia and the USA, huge free ranging herds were kept. Nowadays, we use yards and crushes for husbandry activities such as drafting and calf marking (...
Duncan's user avatar
  • 1,197
6 votes
2 answers
3k views

Did civilian cold war bunkers plan for inclusion of family pets?

At the height of the Cold War, total extermination was considered a possibility. In which case any beloved domestic pets like dogs and cats would presumably die unless included in the civilian bunker ...
LateralFractal's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
969 views

When were domesticated animals tethered on a pole with a rope?

Domestication of plants and animals are thought to have happened during the neolithic period, roughly between 13000-7000 years ago. Now I'm interested of the history of using rope and central pole to ...
MarkokraM's user avatar
  • 523
-5 votes
1 answer
294 views

Horses.. goats... evolution [closed]

I am not sure if this is the right place for this question, but under the StackExchange umbrella I think its best I ask it here. After watching shows like Game Of Thrones, Vikings, Spartans etc. I ...
Simo Mafuxwana's user avatar