Minda Berbeco's picture

Answer Monday!


Photo Credit: Puno3000 via Compfight cc  

Last week on Fossil Friday, I gave you the partial jaw of a prancing little prey from the Barstovian. This specimen came from Nevada, and was actually originally (and incorrectly) identified as a Camelid. Many Fossil Friday fans struggled with this one as well, guessing many other types of four-legged herbivores, but not the right one. 

So who was this prancing pony? It was a Hypohippus equinus, a three-toed horse about the size of a modern day pony...or as we call it around the museum of paleontology, "My Little Pony!"

From the Florida Museum of Natural History:

"[Joseph] Leidy [an American paleontologist] named this genus based on some 'milk molars' (baby teeth, often called deciduous teeth). He noted that the middle cusp was lower than in other 'anchitheres' so perhaps this is why he called it the 'low horse.'

As it turns out, the name is more appropriate than Professor Leidy could have imagined in 1858. Nearly 50 years later, a skeleton of this genus was described. It turns out that Hypohippus was a long-faced, long-necked, and long-bodied animal with short legs. Compared to modern horses, and even other horses of its time, it must have appeared as a low horse."

Thanks for playing Fossil Friday this week. Any suggestions on what type of critters you'd like to see for this Friday's Fossil adventure?