The Phyletic Evolution of Horses

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Evolutionary Biology

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The Phyletic Evolution of Horses

The Phyletic Evolution of Horses

What is Natural Selection?

Natural Selection is the process where organisms that are better adapted to their environment tend to survive and produce more offspring. This theory was brought about by Charles Darwin and is regarded as the main process that brings Evolution.

Evolution of the Toes to the Hoof

Why Did The Horse Evolve?Eohippus or 'Dawn Horse' was the first species of Horse to walk the Earth. Its origins can be traced back to 50 million years ago. Over time, due to the change of environment, the Eohippus had to evolve to survive. However, the evolution process was not straight, and many branches formed from the species in various places in the world. Todays modern horse is now significantly different to the first horse, and many variations are present.The Eohippus had three toes on each foot and a tiny hoof at the end of each toe, allowing it to pad its way through the lush and moist forest underbrush where it fed on various plants and small animals. These eating habits also changed over time as the horse evolved into a herbivore, its only food source being grass. Over millions of years, the three toes developed into a single hoof, with remnants of the padded toes finding a place higher up on the horses leg as vestigal bumps. This change occurred because the hooves had to be strong and durable for pounding on the baked earth of the grasslands and prairies which its habitat had transformed into. The shift in habitat meant a new diet of grass. 'Dawn Horse' originally had teeth that were like those sported by omnivores. During its shift to the prairies, the early horse became a herbivore. Short molars grew longer to grind and cut grass before it was digested.

Timeline ofthe Evolution

Digestive SystemAlong with the enlongating of the face to house the teeth required for grinding, the horses' digestive system also changed as it transformed from browser to grazer.The digestive system of a horse is unique to other mammals because it processes simple carbohydrates with enzymes in the fore gut and other sources of fiber are processed by bacteria in the hind gut. The reliance of plants meant that the horse was constantly grazing, and the change in digestive system was necessary.

Scientific Name: Equus Caballus


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