Are guinea pigs really rodents?

Ken Kinman kinman at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Oct 13 09:13:07 CDT 1999

    There have long been suspicions and suggestions that
Order Rodentia might be polyphyletic, and Caviomorpha seems
to be the group most likely in need of being split off from
rodents.  I was busy with bacteria at the time, but a few
years ago there was some new evidence published concerning
this issue, but I don't recall where.  Could someone
refresh my memory about the caviomorph debate (anything on
the internet about this?).
                  Cheers, Ken Kinman
P.S.  On a lighter note, we all know that that most famous
caviomorph, the guinea pig, is neither from Guinea nor is
it a pig.   The "pig" part is apparently from piglike
sounds they make when frightened (I've never had one so
don't know from personal experience).   However, the
origins of the "guinea" part is controversial.  Some say
British sailors may have sold these pets for the price of a
"guinea".  Others theorize that they were brought back to
Europe from "Guiana" (now Guyana), and I suppose it could
have easily have been corrupted to "guinea".  I suspect the
latter suggestion may be more accurate (the first
suggestion sounds a little too parsimonious and
simplistic).  Anyone have more definitive information?
Just curious.   :-)

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