The link between humans and animals has deep historical roots, both species co-existed since time immemorial and impact each other in many positive and negative ways. For better or worse the humans are the dominating kind, but the members of the animal kingdom have always been able to influence and create important events.This article highlights 5 notable animals that have played an important role in the course of the human history, their achievements vary from conducting spacewalks to saving hundreds human lives in a time of a deadly war.
The lethal monkey who killed The king of Greece
During World War I, King Constantine I of Greece conformed to a policy of neutrality, but openly supported Germany allied with Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire. On the other side, Eleftherios Venizelos, the prime minister of Greece at that time, insisted to join the Triple Entente of Russia, France and Britain. As a result of the dispute the king went into exile, Greece took a part as an ally of the Entente and his second son Alexander was crowned in 1917. However, in 1920 the new monarch was going for a walk when his dog attacked a monkey, Alexander tried to stop the fight but another monkey bit him, the wound infected and a few days later he died. Afterwards, Constantine I came back on the throne, in his second reign he led Greece into devastating for the country war against Turkey. Churchill once commented regarding the Alexander’s death: “It is perhaps no exaggeration to remark that a quarter of a million persons died of this monkey’s bite.”
The rats and fleas who infected one-third of Europe with plague
In the Middle Ages, approximately 25 million people in Europe died infected by the plague, in that period the cause of the disease was unknown. Later, the scientists revealed that the reason for the fatal illness, called the Black Death , is the bacteria Yersinia pestis, which infects rats and other small rodents and is typically transmitted to humans by the bite of infected fleas.
The pigeon who saved hundreds of people
During World war I, In October 1918, Charles Whittlesey’s “Lost Battalion” of the 77th Infantry Division, located in northeastern France was attacked by German soldiers beside the Americans bombarded them confused about the battalion’s position. The last hope for the young soldiers was a pigeon named Cher Ami (“dear friend” in French), the winged warrior had to inform the American troops about the location of Whittlesey’s man and ask for help. Even though wounded by the Germans, the brave bird delivered the message and saved over 200 lads. Lately, for her bravery, Cher Ami received the award Croix de Guerre by the French government. Upon her death in 1919, her body was preserved and placed at the Smithsonian Institute.
The mongrel dog who made a spacewalk
In 1957 the Soviet Union amazed the world launching Sputnik 2, the second spacecraft going around the Earth.Uniquely, on the board was Laika, the first alive animal that will orbit the planet. The dog was chosen because her life of a homeless mutt taught her to survive in extreme condition of cold and starvation in the streets of Moscow. Unfortunately, Laika died only a few hours after the flight, but her sacrifice proved that a living organism from the Earth can endure the condition of outer space, delivered some important data to the scientists and paved the path for the first human spaceflight.
Dolly the sheep, the proof that cloning is possible
In February 1997, The Scottish scientist Ian Wilmot announced that Dolly, the sheep created by him and Rollin Institute was the first successfully cloned adult mammal. Using the technique that made Dolly, scientists went on to clone more different animals. Then in 2011, based on the same approach, scientists created the first stem cells using adult human cells, and in May 2013, scientists announced they had created embryonic-stem-cell lines from human skin cells. In 2003, Dolly was euthanized after developing arthritis and a lung disease. Nowadays, her body is exposed in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.