This was a fun story I heard on NPR today:
click to play
The author's point, in a circuitous fashion, seems to be one I whole-heartedly agree with, merely from a different understanding. I have added his insights to my own. Basically, he has said that Columbus began a world-wide monumental casscade of changes, perhaps unrivaled since the extiction of the dinosaurs (it has been proposed -- not in this interview -- that global climate change might have similar consequences for the natural world). He says up to 1/5 of the world's human population may have died within the 100 years following, and along with the American/African slave trade and other changes, the worldwide distribution of humanity was altered astonishingly rapidly -- unheardof rapidity in historical terms.
And humanity was a very visible but small part of the whole change in the Earth's lifeforms. He talks about earthworms, potatoes, malaria, and horses.
Anyway, real quick, in my own study of history, this period, loosely termed 'The Renaissance Explorers' is what I have long identified as my personal favorite interest. This term is broader that simply Columbus, and includes the likes of Prince Henry the Navigator, Vasco de Game, Cadamosto, Magellan, and many others.
and for more information on past US malaria:
and for some cool Emu drumming sounds, 0:25 seconds into the video (unrelated to the post, otherwise)
(please note: the audio here does not catch the bass sounds well, and maybe a person must hear an emu in person to appreciate the full sensation)