horse evolution


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Horse evolution : 

Horse evolution

Scientific classification : 

Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Mammalia Order: Perissodactyla Family: Equidae Genus: Equus Species: E. caballus

Historical background : 

Historical background In the 1870's, the paleontologist O.C. Marsh published a description of newly discovered horse fossils from North America. The sequence of horse fossils that Marsh described (and that T.H. Huxley popularized) was a striking example of evolution taking place in a single lineage. Some years later, the American Museum of Natural History assembled a famous exhibit of these fossil horses, designed to show gradual evolution from "Eohippus" (now called Hyracotherium) to modern Equus. Such exhibits focussed attention on the horse family not only as evidence for evolution per se, but also specifically as a model of gradual, straight-line evolution, with Equus being the "goal" of equine evolution

Timescale and Horse Family Tree : 

Timescale and Horse Family Tree Recent10,000 years ago to present Pleistocene2.5-0.01 My Pliocene5.3-2.5 MyMiocene24-5.3 MyOligocene34-24 MyEocene54-34 My

Small Eocene Horses : 

Small Eocene Horses Hyracotherium Orohippus Epihippus

Hyracotherium : 

Hyracotherium It had a "doggish" look with an arched back. short neck, short snout, short legs, and long tail. It browsed on fruit and fairly soft foliage probably scampered from thicket to thicket like a modern muntjac deer, only stupider, slower, and not as agile. Legs were flexible and rotatable with all major bones present and unfused. 4 toes on each front foot, 3 on hind feet Small brain with especially small frontal lobes

Medium-Sized Browsing Horses (Oligocene) : 

Medium-Sized Browsing Horses (Oligocene) The climate of North America was becoming drier The vast forests were starting to shrink. The late Eocene horses responded by developing tougher teeth and becoming a bit larger and leggier Mesohippus Miohippus

Mesohippus : 

Mesohippus It didn't look as doggish, either. The back was less arched, the legs a bit longer, the neck a bit longer, and the snout and face distinctively longer. It had a shallow facial fossa, a depression on the skull Mesohippus had three toes on its hind feet and on its front feet -- the 4th front toe was reduced to a vestigial nubbin

Miohippus : 

Miohippus A typical Miohippus was distinctly larger than a typical Mesohippus, with a slightly longer skull. The facial fossa was deeper and more expanded. Miohippus also began to show a variable extra crest on its upper cheek teeth.

The Miohippus Radiation : 

The Miohippus Radiation The horse family began to split into at least 2 main lines of evolution and one small side branch 3-toed browsers called "anchitheres". They were very successful, spread into the Old World, and thrived for tens of millions of years. A line of small "pygmy horses", e.g. Archeohippus. These horses did not survive long. A line that underwent a transformation from browsing to grazing, taking advantage of the new grasses.

Spring-Foot & High-Crowned Teeth (Miocene, 18 My) : 

Spring-Foot & High-Crowned Teeth (Miocene, 18 My) the teeth changed to be better suited for chewing harsh, abrasive grass these horses started to become specialized runners. There was a simultaneous increase in body size, leg length, and length of the face the horses began to stand permanently on tiptoe (another adaptation for speed); instead of walking on doglike pads

Miocene horses, 18 My : 

Miocene horses, 18 My Kalobatippus Parahippus Merychippus

Merychippus : 

Merychippus The muzzle became elongated, the jaw became deeper and the eye moved farther back Merychippus was still 3-toed, but was fully spring-footed The radius and ulna of the forearm fused so that leg rotation was eliminated All these changes made Merychippus' legs specialized for just one function: rapid running over hard ground.

The Merychippine Radiation (Miocene, 15 My) : 

The Merychippine Radiation (Miocene, 15 My) hipparions: Three-toed grazers protohippines: Protohippus and Calippus true equines Throughout the evolution of all these related merychippine descendents, the facial fossae got deeper and more elaborate

One-Toed Horses (Pliocene) : 

One-Toed Horses (Pliocene) Pliohippus Astrohippus Dinohippus

Pliohippus : 

Pliohippus Pliohippus's skull has deep facial fossae, whereas Equus has no facial fossae at all Pliohippus's teeth are strongly curved, and Equus's teeth are very straight.

Dinohippus : 

Dinohippus Finally, a third one-toed horse called Dinohippus (recently discovered) arose about 12 My. They look smashingly like Equus in foot morphology, teeth, and skull. Throughout the end of the Pliocene, Dinohippus showed a gradual decrease in the facial fossae, straightening of the teeth, and other gradual changes

Equus : 

Equus The first Equus were 13.2 hands tall (pony size) rigid spine, long neck, long legs fused leg bones with no rotation long nose, flexible muzzle, deep jaw straight grazing teeth with strong crests lined with cement.

Modern Equines (Recent) : 

Modern Equines (Recent) one-toed Equus was very successful. Until about 1 million years ago, there were Equus species all over Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America In the late Pleistocene there was a set of devastating extinctions that killed off most of the large mammals in North and South America. For the first time in tens of millions of years, there were no equids in the Americas.

Equus species : 

Equus species Equus zebra Equus caballus Equus hemionus Equus asinus

Thanks for your attention : 

Thanks for your attention

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