A new genus of extinct horse

16 January 2018

Interview with

Peter Heintzman, Tromso University Museum

Horses, zebras, asses and donkeys are all members of the group, or genus, called “Equus”. Their first ancestors arose millions of years ago. But as recently as a few tens of thousands of years ago there were two anatomically quite different groups of these animals alive side by side on Earth. One group - called the stout legged horses - are a close genetic match for all of the surviving horses around today. But the other group - called the stilt-legged horses - has since disappeared although it has a similar leg bone structure to certain family members that are still around today. Based on the anatomical similarities, palaeontologists had previously suggested that the extinct horses were related to today’s surviving species. Now a much more comprehensive genetic analysis using fossil DNA from stilt-legged specimens suggests that, instead, these stilt-legged horses were an entirely separate genus, which Peter Heintzman and his colleagues are dubbing Harringtonhippus...


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