Scientists revealed a new theory which claims that there were three periods of evolution in a so-called ‘tree of horses.’ This period is characterized when several new species have already emerged. However, the changes in teeth and morphology had no influence on the periods of speciation. This is contrary to the popular belief that horse teeth evolved as ancient horses diversified into new species.
According to Paleontologist Bruce MacFadden from the University of Florida, this discovery “knocks traditional notions” about new species. If this study were true, there was no rapid diversification, and most importantly, it was not triggered by morphology. He also added that the paper produced by the research study is “very sophisticated and important.”
Based on classic notions, the evolution process involves longer teeth with extensive enamel. These adaptive traits have enabled an animal to cope with a certain environment. When it comes to horses, the development of teeth may have come from eating shrubs and leaves, to grasses in open spaces with dust and grit, Science News reports. Furthermore, MacFadden also said that it would have been difficult for horses to live on grasslands with short teeth.
Meanwhile, Science Alert stated that the research team traced 138 current and extinct species of horses which spans a total of 18 million years from the beginning of their existence up to present. In their research, they have concluded that both teeth and body size of horses have never changed. The group used modern computer models in mapping information regarding the tooth and body size from 131 extinct and 7 living species of horse.
Despite the long evolution of the species of horse, they have been one of the most beloved animals both for leisure and economic purposes. However, they can also be detrimental to our safety and security. A study conducted in Australia has shown that a total of 74 deaths were caused by horses, much higher than the 27 deaths caused by venomous snakes and stinging insects.