Are guinea pigs really rodents?

Derek E. Wildman dew7676 at IS.NYU.EDU
Wed Oct 13 13:13:14 CDT 1999

Dan graur started the argument regarding this issue in 1991, but see

Nature 1996 Jun 13;381(6583):597-600

The guinea-pig is not a rodent.

D'Erchia AM, Gissi C, Pesole G, Saccone C, Arnason U


derek wildman

On Wed, 13
Oct 1999, Ken Kinman wrote:

>     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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Derek E. Wildman
Dept. of Anthropology
New York University
25 Waverly Place
New York, NY 10003

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