Origin and evolution of horses

Origin and evolution of horses

Origin and evolution of horses

The horse is one of the oldest creatures on the planet, its history is more than 60 million years old. Modern paleontologists conducted a study that allowed us to calculate that the modern horse originated from a chiracotheria – an animal in its external structure resembling a zebra or a large dog

Origin and evolution of horses

Hirakoteriy had an arch-shaped back, due to which it was easy to sit on the hind legs, which the modern horse does with difficulty, although it is capable of carrying out similar actions. There were no hooves in the animal, fingers were in their place, there were 3 toes on the hind legs, on the front legs 4. This exact structure of the skeleton was made possible thanks to excavations carried out in South America in the Amazon basin

Apparently, the ancestors of the horse got to the European continent long before the supposed split and division of the continents. In America itself, the horses disappeared and were brought back to these places only by Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century. By the way, the teeth of the chiracotheria were not intended for grinding grass, with their help the animal could only pinch the young leaves of the trees and shoots, which they usually fed. Its height was only 30-50 centimeters at the withers, the front legs were somewhat longer than the rear ones, and had a long tail. Specialists have determined that, in spite of the inappropriateness of this animal to use grass, the structure of its teeth and jaw most closely corresponds to the horse

Scientists believe that the chiracotheria lived on the earth about 55 million years BC, the ancestor of it was the so-called condylarchus, which had 5 fingers and lived on the earth more than 75 million years before our era

Origin and evolution of horses

After a few thousand years, the animals come to replace the chiracotheria, which had only three fingers, but still had feet instead of hoofs. It happened about the Oligocene period. Scientists have called this ancestor of a horse mesogippus, however, in its structure, this animal still did not differ much from chiracotheria, which was connected, first of all, with the presence of permanent natural conditions in which it was necessary to exist mesigippus

Origin and evolution of horses

The situation changed radically during the Miocene period, just at this time a mesigippus appears with a height of 120 centimeters and the first allusions to horny formations in the hoof area. The teeth of merigippus already had great rigidity and were adapted to grind the stiff dry grass

Origin and evolution of horses

Further evolution of the horse is easy to follow, since in the Pliocene appears its next form pliogippus, a one-fingered animal, whose structure most closely coincides with the horse. The limbs of the pliogippus begin to lengthen, with the help of the animal it becomes easy to move around and overcome significant areas

With the passage of time and under the powerful influence of the evolutionary process, the ancestors of the horse acquired a modern look, having traveled a long way from the condylarchus, chiracoteria, mesohippus and pliogypus to the horses of modern breeds known to every breeder.




Origin and evolution of horses