"To Be a Rodent?
Or Not To Be a Rodent?
That is the question!"
A guinea pig is in the rodent family, of course,.
Or is it? ...
"To be a rodent, or not to be a rodent. That is the question."
William Shakespeare's Guinea Pig (the lesser known Whilliam Haykespeare), pondered this same question while his owner was writing his famous play, Hamlet.
So too, have biologists been occasionally puzzled by how to classify this fascinating creature? Is it a rodent, or descended from the ancestor of a hippopotamus?
Scurry on, MacDuff ... I mean, dear readers!
Whilliam Haykespeare -
Portrait courtesy of
Common ancestor? Hmmm. You decide.
For a brief time beginning in June of 1996, guinea pigs were declared to be "non-rodents" by researchers in Italy and Sweden. The research paper, published in the June 13, 1996 issue of Nature, created a scientific firestorm of "epig" proportions!
The heated debate raged on for quite a while, with scathing criticism of the original paper. Finally, there was a formal rebuttal, published the following year. See below.
To read the article that started the firestorm, click below!
Today, more DNA evidence places guinea pigs squarely in the rodentia camp.
Care to see the Guinea Pig Genome and decide for yourself? Click here!