By Charles F. Gritzner
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Extra info for Deserts (Extreme Environments)
On the other hand, where ample freshwater is present—by either natural or artificial means—the desert blooms with productivity and human habitation. For thousands of years, the valleys of the Nile, Tigris, Euphrates, and Indus rivers have supported some of the world’s highest population densities. Population growth and the dawn of early civilizations were supported by very productive alluvial soils and thriving 3 40 Deserts irrigated farming. In the Americas, development came much later. But early native cultures in the Southwest boasted excellent farmers and today the Colorado and Rio Grande rivers are lifelines that support both agriculture and millions of people.
Smaller animals such as sheep could provide a constant supply of wool. Of the traditional farm and ranch animals, sheep and goats were the first to be domesticated. Horses, camels, oxen, and yaks soon followed. We don’t have any record, however, of when dogs were first tamed. The importance of domesticating all of these animals will be discussed in the next chapter. 5 5 Native Cultures C ultural geographers are fascinated by the way people live in groups. We are interested in knowing more about different worldviews and belief systems.
Camels were introduced into the deserts of the American Southwest by Jefferson Davis in the mid-150s. He thought the Desert ecosystem 55 that they would be an ideal replacement for horses in the desert that stretched from western Texas to the California gold fields. His experiment was short-lived. The animals’ padded feet were well suited to sand, but not to sharp rock. Many of the animals were simply turned loose. Wild camels were seen roaming the deserts of western Texas and southwestern Arizona until at least the end of the nineteenth century.
Deserts (Extreme Environments) by Charles F. Gritzner