Q:

Where did horses originate from?

A:

Quick Answer

Modern horses are believed to be descendants of those introduced by Spanish settlers in North America during the 16th century. Horses naively roamed North America until approximately 10,000 years ago, when they became extinct. The cause of this extinction is unknown, although climate change and hunting are probable factors.

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Full Answer

Eohippus, or the "dawn horse," is believed to be one of the first ancestors of horses. It is characterized by its diminutive stature and toes that each end in a hoof-like structure. The Eohippus has origins that date back over 1 million years ago. Modern horses, in comparison, have one hoofed toe on each foot and vestigial toes that resemble bumps along the lower leg.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    When did horses arrive in North America?

    A:

    The modern horse was introduced to North America in 1519 by Spanish conquistadors. Hernán Cortés brought 15 horses to the mainland, and many of them were granted to settlers in Mexico and New Mexico. Further expeditions brought more horses, and large, wild herds existed in America by the 17th century.

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  • Q:

    Do horses lay down?

    A:

    Adult horses lie down during REM sleep, and sometimes they also lie down during the day to rest or sun bathe. Young foals commonly sleep lying down. Horses only lie down for short periods because they are adapted to sleep on their feet and awake quickly to flee predators.

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  • Q:

    How fast can horses run?

    A:

    The average horse can run at about 30 miles per hour. Horses that are bred to run long distances have been recorded to run up to 40 miles per hour. Quarter horses bred for racing short distances have been reported to run as fast as 50 miles per hour. The highest race speed is recorded at 43.97 miles per hour by Winning Brew in Grantville, PA. on May 14, 2008.

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  • Q:

    How do horses sleep?

    A:

    Horses typically sleep standing up, though they do lie down during REM sleep. They stay upright even when unconscious due to ligaments and tendons within their legs that lock into place when their hips rotate slightly during rest. This system of ligaments and tendons is called the stay apparatus.

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