There have been plenty of memorable animals throughout the ages. While most of these animals may simply be known for their television prowess or amazing adorable-ness, a few have actually helped sculpt and shape the course of history. Below are six of these animals.
6 The Black Rat Brings the Black Death
Though no one single rat can be singled out for starting the Black Plague, the sheer destruction caused by this collective animal family is enough to ensure their place on this list. Taking place during the 14th century, the Black Death is widely known as the worst pandemic in human history. Estimates suggest that 30 to 60 percent of Europe’s population was wiped out by the disease. Though unknown at the time, the lowly black rat played an integral role in spreading the disease (as it is believed Oriental rat fleas were the source of disease transmission). If not for the hearty rat, today’s human population would be exponentially larger.
5 Jim the Disease-Curing Horse
While the entire species of black rats may have scarred the karma of the animal kingdom, a single milk wagon horse by the name of Jim helped bring them back into our good graces. At the turn of the 20th century, diphtheria was a fatal and highly contagious disease that was ravaging much of the world. Sadly, old Jim would eventually come down with the disease. However, before his owner could put him out of his misery, the lucky horse somehow got better. Science intervened to help us humans cultivate diphtheria antitoxins from the wonder horse and quickly develop a cure for the illness.
4 Dolly the Cloned Sheep
Back in 1996, Dolly proved that cloning of mammals was possible. Cloned from a singular cell taken from a mammary gland (FYI, Dolly is named after Dolly Parton because of the country singer’s memorable mammaries), Dolly helped prove that an entire living being could be recreated simply by using a cell taken from a specific part of the body. Though practical uses for cloning are still on the horizon, it is without a doubt this intrepid domestic sheep will help shape medical science for years to come.
3 Ham – First Chimp in Space
If it wasn’t for Ham the chimpanzee, we humans may never have had the cajones to launch ourselves into outer space. Much as our chimpanzee brethren first walked on this earth before us, so too did they first journey into the final frontier. In early 1961, at the ripe old age of four years old, Ham became the first hominid to be launched into outer space. Though his flight was only 16 minutes and 39 seconds long, his ability to burst through the stratosphere provided the direct confidence necessary to shoot a human being (Alan Shepard) into outer space later that year.
2 Napoleon’s Newfoundland
The Battle of Waterloo is one of the most famous battles in all of history. However, it likely would never have occurred if not for the actions of a Newfoundland dog. You see, after escaping from exile on the island of Elba, Napoleon set sail to reclaim his lost territories in a murderous blood rage. However, during this trip, it is said that he was thrown overboard and would have certainly died if not for the fact that the unnamed Newfoundland leaped into the briny depths to save him. Such heroic water extractions are a common occurrence among the Newfoundland breed -– a fact that helps add credibility to this otherwise unverified historical fact.
1 The Monkey Attack on Alexander I
Way back in 1920, King Alexander I of Greece was taking his pet dog for a leisurely stroll through the Royal Gardens. Suddenly, two monkeys came out of nowhere and threatened to attack poor Alexander’s beloved pet. Attempting to fight off the crazed moneys, Alexander was bit in the ensuing exchange. From this monkey bite, Alexander soon died of sepsis.
His death caused the return of his father, Constantine, to the throne. Since Constantine had allied with Germans in WWI, this caused France and Britain to back out of aiding in Greece’s attack on the Ottoman Empire. As a result, around 250 thousand Greek soldiers were killed in ensuing battles and Turkey proved once and for all to be the big dog on the Ottoman campus.