The NFS explicitly states in its introduction that it is aimed at the survey of knowledge of Creole (“Criollo”) origin, a social group that identifies itself as livestock producers (Arias Toledo and Trillo, 2018). This condition of ranchers models the selection of zootherapeutic remedies, incorporating livestock and domestic species in their preferences. Souto et al. (2011) point out that Latin American mestizo populations combine the use of domestic fauna of European origin –which was important during the occupation stage of colonized territories- with native species. The use of domestic animals as a source of medicines seems to be a constant feature in Europe, at least in the Mediterranean area, the origin area of most migrants from the study area. Quave and Pieroni (2013) suggest that such a preponderance is due to the easy access to such products, and show continuity of certain practices, which were documented in ancient texts. In this regard, practices such as the treatment of dog bites with burned hair and the use of “talismans” of their teeth to prevent bites, or the treatment of snake bites with human feces were not only described for current Mediterranean populations (Pieroni and Quave, 2005), but also already part of Dioscorides' De Materia Medica (Quave and Pieroni, 2013). Likewise, the use of horse and donkey feces was mentioned for past and present populations in Spain (Vallejo and González, 2014), and was also related to the “Greek humoral theory”, magical thinking and the ideological-symbolic system of Hispanic populations. However, González and Vallejo (2014) propose that the transfer of knowledge has been more related to healing techniques and treatments than to species. All this suggests continuity in time –throughout 2000 years of history– and European origin of some medicinal practices, probably those that involve domestic animals.
Of the zootherapeutic resources mentioned in the NFS for Córdoba and those currently used (Arias Toledo and Trillo 2014, 2017) in the province, 75% and 67%, respectively, are from wild animals (Table 1), showing that such knowledge combines both part of historical European origin, as previously described, with elements of Native American cultures (Idoyaga Molina 2000).
Among the elements with origin in native cultures, interestingly, the practice of introducing a sick child into the still warm womb of a recently slaughtered cow coincides exactly with the treatment described for the "aicado" or "aicadura" in Andean medicine (Crivos et al., 2007). While the NFS did not provide a precise description of the ailment that required such treatment –it only indicated that it was applied to "tullido"(crippled) children–, in Andean medicine it is described in greater depth as a therapy applied to children who "become very skinny”, usually accompanied by diarrhea and febrile syndromes (Crivos et al., 2007; Abeledo, 2017) and with difficulties in walking (Chávez Hernández and Rubio Rivera, 2004) –which can be related to the term“tullido” used in the NFS. In turn, while for Andean medicine, the "aicado" is related to a misconduct of the pregnant mother or with an infant who passes near a cemetery, attends a wake or funeral, and causes a "mental" ailment to her child (Crivos et al., 2007; Abeledo, 2017), for Western medicine this disease corresponds to severe malnutrition (Chávez Hernández and Rubio Rivera, 2004). These examples show how these human groups adapted to the existing biological resources, generating valuable local ethnobiological knowledge, as proposed for other mestizo peoples in Latin America (Souto el al. 2011). These observations agree with previous studies (Alves and Rosa 2006, 2007) that demonstrated that the diversity of medicinal animals used by human populations is influenced by animal diversity in the region. Both the indigenous contribution and the use of local diversity were here confirmed in the 21 coincidences found in the uses in phytogeographically and culturally similar areas (Di Lullo, 2016 (reissue of the original from 1929)).
This dynamics of ethnobiological knowledge, which allows us to trace ancestral knowledge from other continents or other geographical areas, and to verify local adaptations, shows current continuity of uses, even in minor aspects such as the use of identical techniques for the treatment of toothaches with toads or chicken fat. Thus, we see continuity in the use of zootherapies for the same purposes, in the same area, by inhabitants of the same cultural tradition –both the NFS and the current articles address the "Criollo" culture– reflecting a continuity of certain medical practices.
Nevertheless, the amount of zootherapeutic products currently used in the province of Córdoba is notoriously lower than that recorded in the NFS for the same area, unlike the amount of herbal remedies (Trillo et al., 2010, 2019). This phenomenon may be explained by several factors, from a current negative moral assessment of the use of animals –society perceives animals as “closer” to them (and even humanized) than plants–, which discourages their use, to under-registration of zootherapies, which have been scarcely addressed by ethnobiological research with respect to phytotherapeutics (Alves and Alves, 2011; Souto et al. 2011).
The great diversity of ailments treated with zootherapeutic products is a clear example of the importance of these resources for these past populations. At a time when access to health care was difficult, especially in rural communities, people evidently developed close interactions with nature, often also associated with economic dependence on local natural resources, as proposed by Alves and Alves (2011). Thus, they developed alternative medicinal systems. Among the treated ailments, the degree of redundancy of species used for the treatment of toothaches stands out. The "dermatological" and "respiratory" uses show values close to and even higher than remedies used for toothache; however, unlike toothaches, those categories encompass very diverse ailments (from burns to warts and from colds to pneumonia). The degree of redundancy of species indicated for the treatment of toothaches can be explained by considering that, while other ailments do not cause major discomfort (e.g. warts or "testes"), evolve even without treatment (e.g. gastrointestinal disorders, colds, etc.) or have a low prevalence (e.g. animal bites), toothaches may have been highly frequent in populations with poor oral hygiene habits, are extremely painful and symtpoms tend to become worse rather than relieved. A similar situation occurs with osteo-arthro-muscular inflammatory processes, which follow toothaches in terms of redundancy. Since toothaches and rheumatism are slow processes that do not pose immediate risk to life, their treatment may have allowed experimentation, and may have resulted in a considerable improvement of life quality.
Finally, mammals and birds were (according NFS) and still are (Alves and Alves, 2011; Arias Toledo, 2014; Hanazaki, Alves and Begossi, 2009; Martínez, 2013) the taxa that include the largest number of species mentioned as used. This result may be explained by the fact that most domestic animals are mammals or birds, and selection of species may have been related to theconspicuousness, abundance or accessibility of each animal group. Interestingly, although amphibians and reptiles are the taxa with the fewest species mentioned, they include three of the species with the highest use consensus. In the case of reptiles, fats are usually the main extracted medicinal product in South America (Costa Neto, 1999; Moura and Marques, 2008; Hanazaki et al., 2009; Cunha Ribeiro et al., 2010). Hanazaki et al. (2009) state that the use of fats for medicinal purposes was originated in Europe, which would explain its persistance in populations of mestizo origin such as the one studied. The case of the toad is particularly interesting, since it is the only amphibian with clearly symbolic uses and which, as indicated in the NFS, "is an animal that inspires a lot of respect, one could almost say a sacred animal" (our translation). The widespread use of the toad with magical/symbolic value, as well as of other animals or animal parts, such as cricket legs to help children walk, amulets of dog teeth to prevent bites, rhea tendons for children to walk, among others, is included in the ideological dimension (Marques, 2009) of zootherapy. Thus, as stated by Jones Sánchez (2019), popular knowledge is the result not only of cultural representations, but also of daily experiences –and, in our opinion, also of historical processes; individuals elaborate knowledge in a process of multiple interactions with the environment, fueled by their own and other people's experiences.