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How many times have you heard people say that the horse is not native to North America? I bet lots of times. Did you know that it is not true? In the past 10 years more and more fossil evidence has proven that the ancestors of the modern horse originated on the North American plate, not in Asia and it was originally thought.
The wild horse that developed in North America was about the size of the modern day Arabian horse when it migrated to other parts of the globe via over the Bering land bridge. During that same time, camels also made the journey from North America to the rest of Asia. Of course the whole herd of horses did not leave North America – they stayed. Evidence of Equus ferus (the ancient wild horse) has been found in Idaho and Canada. There is a large national monument in Idaho that has whole fossilized horses on display. It is called the Hagerman Fossil Beds. The website has more info on the horse fossils.
If you are really interested in finding out more then I suggest BJ MacFadden’s book, Fossil Horses: Systematics, Paleobiology, and Evolution of the Family Equidae
The book is written in a typical college textbook style. This is not your coffee table picture book. If you are up for a little research then this book is something to dig into (excuse the pun). I found a copy on sale for only a dollar because no one else bid on it.
What I found intriguing is the fact that the horse disappeared from the North American plate about 7,000 years ago. Humans showed up in the America’s about 4,000 prior to that. Some people have said that horses were hunted into extinction in North America, but if that was the case the horse would have disappeared all over the world and not just from North America. The horse’s disappearance 7,000 years ago from North America still remains a mystery.