Millions of years ago, the landmass Pangaea drifted apart creating two distinct worlds (McNeil, 2008). North and South America, commonly referred to as the New World, were separated from Eurasia and Africa, which are the Old World (Crosby, 2007). According to Crosby (2007), this continental shift and separation lasted so long that two distinct worlds were created. For instance, rattlesnakes evolved in the New World while vipers were present in the Old World (Crosby, 2007). These two worlds were reunited in 1492 when Columbus set foot in the Americas (Crosby, 2007).
Although questions stand whether Columbus was the first to discover America, he was the first to initiate an exchange of many plants, animals, and diseases between the two worlds (Crosby, 1972). “The decades following 1492 launched an unparalleled exchange of crops in what has become known as the Columbian exchange” (Carney, 2001). In 1972, Crosby coined the term the Columbian exchange in his book The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492. Crosby (1972) used the term to mean the transferring of culture and biological organisms between the two worlds and the beginning of a homogeneous world.
THE COLUMBIAN EXCHANGE OVERVIEW
THE COLUMBIAN EXCHANGE - THE KHAN ACADEMY
Alfred W. Crosby on the Columbian Exchange