Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Utah...Pony?

So,  a family found a fossil in their backyard.

Of a horse. In Utah. Horses, if you didn't know, evolved on the Great Plains and then crossed the land bridge into Asia. For some reason, they then became extinct in the Americas until reintroduced by Europeans.

It's not, thus, all that surprising to find a 16,000 year old horse fossil in your back yard, except for one thing:

The skeleton looked like a Shetland Pony.

Shetland ponies are the only dwarf breed of horse. There are three kinds of dwarfism in horses - the other two are associated with major health problems.

The fact that this wild horse (horses were domesticated in Asia about 6,000 years ago) was a dwarf is, therefore, interesting to horse breeders.

It demonstrates the possibility that far from Shetland ponies being a human creation, they may be a relic population of a natural subrace. Given certain traits of the breed - a long life, higher cold tolerance and a certain, uh, orneriness, this doesn't surprise me one iota.

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