Galloping across the steppes

TwilightBeasts

A team of horses (Equus caballus) slowly moving across the European steppes around 30,000 years ago. (Art by Tabitha Paterson) A team of horses (Equus caballus) slowly moving across the European steppes around 30,000 years ago. (Art by Tabitha Paterson)

Around 50 million years ago, long before the Epoch of the Twilight Beasts, a little mammal, Eohippus, scurried about in the forests of North America. This creature, about the size of an average dog, was the ancestor of the magnificent horse we know today. During this Period, called the Eocene, the environment and climate was constantly changing, and little Eohippus responded to adapt. Some species kept the paw like feet and just grew a little larger. Others lost a few toes altogether. Like the plants Eohippus fed from, horse evolution was a bushy tree of different species, some branches giving rise to new species, others evolutionary dead ends.

The horse that we know today, Equus caballus, evolved from the tiny little Eohippus. In…

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