Traditional history books often portray the pre-Columbus Americas as untouched wilderness inhabited by small native villages living in harmony with nature. However, scientific evidence paints a different picture: when Columbus arrived in 1492, millions of people were already living in the Americas, which were not a “New World” but an ancient one with a vast infrastructure of cities, orchards, canals, and causeways.

The English introduced honeybees to the Americas for honey production, but the bees also played a crucial role in pollinating orchards along the East Coast, leading to the proliferation of plants like apples and peaches. Around 12,000 years ago, North American mammoths, ancient horses, and other large mammals disappeared, and the first horses since the Pleistocene era arrived with Columbus in 1493.

Early settlers in the Americas reported rivers teeming with more fish than water, and the South American potato contributed to a population explosion in Europe. In 1491, the Americas had few domesticated animals, with llamas serving as the primary beasts of burden.

Contrary to popular belief, in 1491, the population of the Americas exceeded that of Europe. The first conquistadors were sailors and adventurers, and the Americas were not pristine wilderness but a densely populated and managed landscape. Areas like the now barren Chaco Canyon were once lush with vegetation. European settlers introduced crops like wheat and weeds like dandelion to America.

The domestication of the turkey is believed to have originated in pre-Columbian Mexico and did not exist in Europe in 1491. By 1500, European settlers and their introduced plants and animals had significantly altered the landscape of the Americas. Crops such as beans, potatoes, and maize from the Americas became major staples in continental Europe.

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