Horses Have Been Giving Birth The Same Way For 48-Million Years
A recent discovery of a 48 million year old horse fetus has shown that surprisingly the reproductive system of horses has barely changed at all over that time.
The discovery was made at the Grube Messel, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located near Frankfurt, Germany. The mare was discovered in 2000 but scientists have only now completed their study.
Rather than bore you with all the details, we have extracted the key information from the study and condensed it into these key facts:
The ancient horse comes from the Eocene Epoch, which lasted from about 56 million to 34 million years ago. The study shows that back then horses would have had four hooves on each forelimb and three on each hindlimb, meaning a total of 14 hooves. Over time horses have evolved so much to only have 4 hooves.
However, their reproductive system has largely remain unchanged. They had placental tissue that supplied the fetus with nutrients as well as a broad uterine ligament that connected the uterus to the vertebrae and the pelvis, just like they do now.
"You can imagine the amount of evolution which took place...during those 48 million years but the [reproductive] system, in so far as we know it now, was already present at that time," says Franzen, the paper's lead author. This makes it one of the earliest features in the world to develop into its modern form.
So there you have it, horses have been giving birth the same way for 48 million years. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
Why not take a look at some of the non-fossilised horses we have on HorseClicks today!