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North America was the original home of the horse species. Horses evolved here, and equine species thrived here for over 57 million years. The plant and animal communities of North American ecology evolved with horses playing an integral role.

About 8,000 - 10,000 years ago, for reasons not yet fully understood (meteors, climate change, disease pandemic, and human hunting pressures are among the possibilities), horses are believed* to have become extinct in the land of their origin. Luckily by that time they had migrated to Asia, where they spread into Europe and North Africa.

(* see "Alternative Histories")

Photos from Beringea interpretive Center

illustration from  

For more, see these:
Yukon Beringea Interpretive Center
Yukon Beringea Center Research on The Yukon Horse

Dr. Deb Bennett's Horse Evolution article
(very technical)

Ancient horse bones are turning up many places. Here is a story from the Las Vegas area

Links to source articles and more information:


  • CLICK HERE for the Oxford Journal's article about genetic research into horse origins
  • CLICK HERE for the Oxford Journal's article exploring horse genetics
  • CLICK HERE to read a "Science Daily" article about prehistoric domestication of the horse


During the Pleistocene Era, there were more than 50 species of equids in the Americas.
Now there are, worldwide, only 7
(or 8, depending on how you classify Przewalski's. Some consider it a separate species, others say it is a subspecies of equus caballus)