People seldom travel alone, but bring along a whole suite of other species.
An archaeological research team . . . has found one of the most diverse collections of prehistoric non-native animal remains in the Caribbean, on the tiny island of Carriacou. The find contributes to our understanding of culture in the region before the arrival of Columbus, and suggests Carriacou may have been more important than previously thought.
The researchers found evidence of five species that were introduced to Carriacou from South America between 1,000 and 1,400 years ago. Only one of these species, the opossum, can still be found on the island. The other species were pig-like peccaries, armadillos, guinea pigs and small rodents called agoutis.
Researchers think the animals were used as sources of food. The scarcity of the remains, and the few sites where they were found, indicate that the animals were not for daily consumption. “We suspect that they may have been foods eaten by people of high status, or used in ritual events,” says Dr. Scott Fitzpatrick, an associate professor of anthropology at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the research.
I find it amusing to imagine that if pigs had not been brought to the New World, guinea pigs might have been bred until they were the size of basset hounds.
Update: In the cathedral of Cuzco, Peru, a Last Supper featuring Guinea Pig as the main course.