Today we will talk about the origins of horses, or as everyone knows, the horse, one of the most beautiful and elegant animals in the world. The horse has accompanied human beings for thousands of years, and has always been a perfect work companion.
Horses have been evolving for 50 million years, but it is only in recent decades that scientists have tried to establish their origin exactly. With this article we want to reveal the secrets of their origin.
Characteristics of horses
The horse is a domesticated mammal of the order of the Perissodactyla, the only living genus of the equidae family. They are large herbivores, with a broad, arched neck and thick mane. The female of the horse is called mare, the puppies are called foals if they are males, fillies if they are females.
The horses’ instinct to escape derives from their being easy victims of predators; however, when faced with the impossibility of escaping, they are always ready to face the danger. Most breeds are fast, agile and fairly resilient. They are also social animals, able to establish strong ties with humans or other animals.
The origin of horses
To establish the origins of horses it is necessary to go back to 55 million years ago, to the times when the eoippo, ancestor of the horse, lived in North America. The eoippo was a small herbivorous mammal lived at the time of the Eocene, and from which it is believed that the horses descended. It measured between 20 and 40 centimeters in height and had four fingers on the front ends, and three on the rear ends.
Its size and shape made it very similar to a dog, but the eoippo evolved later growing in stature and changing the anatomy of the foot, becoming one-sided – provided with a single finger. Over time, the paw underwent further evolution, until it reached the appearance of a hoof, an attribute that facilitated its escape from predators.
Later the animal developed the mandibles and was transformed into the equus genus, from which the equine word derives and to which the entire family of horses is linked.
Emigration to Asia
For reasons related to unfavorable weather conditions in North America, the equus fled towards Eurasia; it is in these lands that scientists place the now extinct wild horse, ancestor of the domestic horse.
The origins of the horse as we all know it today, date back to the Pleistocene epoch, that is to say 2 million years ago. All this caused the extinction of horses in America, until some specimens were not re-introduced by the Spanish colonizers.
Przewalski’s horse, from Asia, is one of the genetic fathers of the current horse, and it also expanded later on to the African continent. Currently the number of Przewalski horses raised in captivity is 300.
Horses in different civilizations
If there is a civilization that gave great importance to horses, these are the Ancient Romans, who worked on the breeding and taming of this splendid animal, using it at the same time as a beast of burden and work. The civilizations that over time invaded the Iberian Peninsula, especially the Arabs, came to develop their own farms, until they established a real livestock trade industry.
Horses in actuality
The horse is considered today a loved and appreciated creature by all. Since it was domesticated, this creature was used for countless purposes, primarily for transport and work in the fields. Nowadays the horse is used mainly in sports competitions and exhibitions.
A clear example is that of dressage, horse riding, bullfighting, the obstacle course or horse riding. It has also been shown how therapy routes with horses can be of great help to disabled people.
According to a survey, the horse population in 2007 recorded a total of 58 million specimens, of which 9 million reside in the United States. According to the story, the Russian Empire was the country with the greatest possession of horses ever – around 35 million specimens are spoken.