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Re: did you know

That's fascinating, Kitty.  I knew it had been used by early people
as fertilizer, but didn't know about the political part.  Are some of
these resources in danger of being depleted?
In a message dated 8/2/2008 3:04:15 PM Eastern Daylight Time, 
kmrsy@comcast.net writes:

The history of Bat Guano and American Expansion

Stemming from the Incan language (Quichua) for "bird droppings", guano is 
thought to have been used for centuries in both South American and Pacific 
Islander civilizations. The Incas discovered that bat rookeries established 
on nearby island chains contained vast amounts of this excellent soil 
fertilizer, which were easily accessible and provided amazing results when 
used on corn and bean crops. Spanish explorers took both the word and the 
practice back with them to Europe. Guano soon became a valuable commodity, 
rivaling only gold in its value as an import of the new world.

Later, American farmers eagerly took to using Bat Guano as well, with 
Congress going so far as establishing the Guano Island Act in 1856. This act 
secured future guano supplies by allowing ocean islands to be claimed as 
territories in the name of harvesting guano. Incidentally, many currently 
owned American Territories were established in this manner such as Johnson 
Atoll and the famous Midway Island, which served as an important forward 
base of operations during World War II.

It wasn't until after the invention of gunpowder that early chemists 
discovered that components of bat guano also lent itself to the production 
of powerful explosives. Guano harvesting was increased as the military found 
a new use for the unorthodox fertilizer. Bat guano operations began to 
spring up all across the world, from the remote corners of New Zealand to 
the depths of the Grand Canyon, and they have continued in production ever 

Today, Bat guano is still in use as both a fertilizer and a component of 
some ammunitions. Bat guano has even been taken into space aboard the 
Mercury and Gemini space capsules, and was used as the propellant to deploy 
the radio transmission antennas after splashdown. Bat guano may have 
originally been a discovery of the ancients, but its usefulness for modern 
society can still be seen today.

I bet Cathy knew all this.

neIN, Zone 5 

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