Hippidion

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Hippidion
Temporal range: Late Pliocene - Late Pleistocene, 2–0.009Ma
brown skeleton of a quadruped
H. principale skeleton
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Perissodactyla
Family: Equidae
Genus: Hippidion
Roth, 1899
Species
  • H. principale
  • H. saldiasi
  • H. entrerianum

Hippidion (meaning little horse) was a horse that lived in South America during the Pleistocene epoch, between two million and 10,000 years ago.

Evolution[edit]

Life restoration of H. principale from 1913
Skeleton in Natural History Museum, London

Hippidion has been considered a descendant of pliohippines,[1] horses that migrated into the South American continent around 2.5 million years ago.[1][2] However, recent analysis of the DNA of Hippidion and other New World Pleistocene horses supports the novel hypothesis that Hippidion is actually a member of the living genus Equus, with a particularly close relationship to the wild horse, Equus ferus.[1][2]

Hippidion and other South American horses went extinct approximately 8,000 years ago. Specific archaeological recovery at the Cueva del Milodon site in Patagonian Chile demonstrates that Hippidion saldiasi[3] existed in that vicinity in the era of 10,000 to 12,000 years before present. Horses did not reappear there until the 16th century, as a result of introduction by humans.

Description[edit]

It stood approximately 1.4 metres (4.6 ft) (also 13.2 hh) high at the shoulders and resembled a donkey. Evidence from the delicate structure of the nasal bones in the animal suggests that Hippidion evolved in isolation from the other horse species of North America.

Discovery[edit]

Remains of Hippidion saldiasi have been recovered in locations such as the Piedra Museo site, Santa Cruz, Argentina[4] and Cueva del Milodon, Chile.[5] The significance of such archaeological recovery is amplified by the association with hunting of these animals by prehistoric man at possible Pre-Clovis horizons.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Weinstock, J. et al. (2005). "Evolution, systematics, and phylogeography of Pleistocene horses in the New World: a molecular perspective". PLoS Biology 3 (8): e241. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0030241. PMC 1159165. PMID 15974804. 
  2. ^ a b Orlando, L. et al. (2008). "Ancient DNA Clarifies the Evolutionary History of American Late Pleistocene Equids". Journal of Molecular Evolution 66 (5): 533–538. doi:10.1007/s00239-008-9100-x. PMID 18398561. 
  3. ^ C. Michael Hogan, Cueva del Milodon, Megalithic Portal, 13 April 2008 [1]
  4. ^ Alberdia, María T.; Miottib, Laura; Pradoc, José L. (2001). "Hippidion saldiasi Roth, 1899 (Equidae, Perissodactyla), at the Piedra Museo Site (Santa Cruz, Argentina): Its Implication for the Regional Economy and Environmental Reconstruction". Journal of Archaeological Science 28 (4): 411–419. doi:10.1006/jasc.2000.0647. 
  5. ^ "The Megalithic Portal and Megalith Map: Cueva del Milodon Cave or Rock Shelter". Retrieved 2008-12-08.