Monday, 24 February 2003
Horses reached the Americas long ago, but eventually died out
LIMA: Geologists have uncovered the most complete horse fossil in the Americas, expanding knowledge of an ancient species that had died out on the continent 10,000 years ago.A team from Peru's Natural History Museum told reporters on Friday they had discovered the preserved skeleton of an Equus (Amerihippus) santaeelenae in July 2002 in the arid region of Arequipa, about 1,000 km south of Lima.
The fossil, unearthed in an area of volcanic ash and mud flows, had its head arched back and its front legs splayed out in front of its body. It was to be put on public display in the capital Lima at the end of the month. "Without a doubt, this is the most complete horse fossil that exists in the Americas. Absolutely all the bones have been preserved," said Rodolfo Salas, head of the palaeontology department at the museum.
Compared to today's horse, the Equus santaeelenae had a large head, a thick neck and short legs. "It was definitely a good runner ... and lived in open areas like savannahs or pastures," Salas said. Horses are thoguth to have arrived in South America about 3 million years ago, making their way across the isthmus of Panama from North America. But its population dwindled and it became extinct about 10,000 years ago - about the same time humans are believed to have settled South America.
They were re-introduced following the arrival of Spanish conquistadors and colonists in the 16th century."Horses were reintroduced to South America," he added. "With this (find) we hope to remind people this animal did exist here."
Note for Blog Manager: So you see, the Book of Mormon could well be an inspired work after all!
Other Links and Stories About Horses In North America...