Monday, December 14, 2020

Why did horses become extinct on the prairies of America

 Or did they?  Understand that the horse is a domesticated eurasian animal that was selected for size and ridability.  wild versions of their ancestors barely exist.  Any american wild horses would have been easily overwelmed genetically if they existed at all.  We have the same with the Auroch and the domesticated cow.

My key point is that ancient herds were remarkably local and small for most ruminants when compared to their domersticated versions.  

So yes it is plausible that the wild horse retained a viable local population until the mustang showed up took over their range.

The buffalo had the huge herds in North America but were still easily hunted sustainably.  What happened in Asia?  Did horse based hunters wipe them out?  That is very possible because an expanding plains indian population sooner or later would have taken out the buffalo.  It certainly became an organized industry.

Why did horses become extinct on the prairies of America when humans arrived, but not on the steppes of Eurasia? Why did bison survive?\

Wow , a controversial animal question!!!

The extinction of horses in the Americas has grown into a debated subject..

Most paleontologists believe that all horses died out in North America centuries AFTER the first humans arrived. But there exists no consensus when. The last surviving species were :

Extinct Yukon horse

A. a real horse, closely related to our own horses and somewhat resembling the Przewalski horse. It has been found in Alaska/Yukon in a preserved state. It was probably even the same species..

B. an American oddity, a stilt legged smaller equid vaguely resembling the hemiones or wild asses of ASIA like the Mongolian Dziggetai, the Tibetan Kiang or the Onagers of Persia, India and Turkmenistan. But still a radically distinct species..

Well, there exists a minority of zoologists and horse fans that think in some pockets of North America at least the real horses survived.

There is some evidence for it but this is under attack..
The Native American medicine men used horse teeth on rare occassions as amulets.. But how came they by these teeth. The teeth might have been laying around for centuries on the prairies..

2. There exists a rock engraving with a Native American leading a horse like creature. But it could have been a pet, a captured foal. And of course the date of the rock art is under attack and I can not find a scan.

This is not the petroglyph i meant…

This is not the picture either but looks more like it..

3. There exist a piece of pottery with a Native American riding on what looks like a horse… It is seen as dating from before the Arrival of Columbus. I had the scan once but can no longer find it..

4. The following artifact is even more doubtful. But is from Yucatan..

So if the dating of these objects is proven to be pre-columbian then a few Native Americans indeed had some very rare horses..

I was not going into South America because that is even more contested. But recently I found a scan of Native engravings of horsetracks in Patagonia.

Actually during the Ice Ages several horse species lived in South America; more or less true horses of the genus Equus and the weird Hippidions…

Reconstruction of a hippidion; they were quite small

And further to the North there are reports on strange horses which have lived on Haiti till after the arrival of Europeans but of course this is also contested.

Furthermore I vaguely remember 7 or 8 species of Bison made it to the Last Ice Age but only 2 survived the arrival of mankind..

Why did this horse extinction happen. The early humans did this. That is the main factor. The changes in climate , etc. were only minor factors.

I own several books about animal extinctions including one with a foreword by Prince Philip and a whole library on horses but this is laying next to me:

I also use:


It is this last book by Groves that challenges the thesis that all equids were long extinct in the New World..

PS. The last proven horse remains in North America are now set at 7,600 years ago, overlapping with Native Americans for 6,000 years but of course more recent findings could turn up…

A new thesis…

Annex: Ice Age horses of EUROPE

Three true horses on top, extinct hydruntine = Equus hydruntinus below; rock art

Reconstruction of Equus hydruntinus named after infamous Otranto in Italy

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