General Question

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Were horses native to America?

Asked by RedDeerGuy1 (14561points) 1 week ago

Or were they brought from European explorers?

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14 Answers

SergeantQueen's avatar

The ones native to North America went extinct a long time ago, and what we have now was brought in during the Spanish Conquest it seems.

Yellowdog's avatar

We DO have wild mustangs. However, even though they’ve reverted to wild, they are descended from the ones the Spanish brought.

nerdgirl578's avatar

Um, you do know we have (and had) horses over here in eourope right?

Yellowdog's avatar

That’s where Spain got ‘em, or so I hear.

But what do I know? I wasn’t even ALIVE yet.

Demosthenes's avatar

Interestingly, North America seems to be where the horse originally evolved (millions of years ago). So kind of ironic that the Americas lost them 10,000 years ago. In fact, the Americas lost many large animals in various megafuana extinctions. @Yellowdog is correct that we now have feral (meaning they were once domesticated and reverted) horses descended from those brought by European explorers.

Patty_Melt's avatar

I believe that sometime after the arrival of Spanish horses there were wasp some brought by Norse sailors, but bing is only giving me very narrow search results.
I know there’s an island somewhere off of the Carolinas with a protected herd of horses, and I don’t think the Spanish supplied that line.
Even though the horses which were here went extinct, the arrival of another horse supply came pretty long ago.
As @Demosthenes says, we had some very cool mammals here which met with extinction not so very long ago, by anthropological terms.
There was giant sloth, sabor tooth cats, horses, camels, bison, plus beaver big enough to make a full length coat from one animal.
We missed out on a lot of very cool stuff by only a few centuries!
Wait, I forgot to mention woolly mammoth. How could I forget them?!
How cool would it be to have a mammoth ranch?

Response moderated
Dutchess_lll's avatar

@Patty_Melt…Misty of Chincoteague.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Horses originated in North America as animals the size of basset hounds. Their descendants evolved to outrun the swiftest of diners in the arms race which continues to the present day. They went extinct in North America along with most of the larger herbivores (and those that ate them), but fortunately not before being well established in Asia. I’ve often wondered why horses didn’t spread South through Central and South America. My guess is that it was probably the jungle environment common to the tropics that impeded the introduction of animals superbly evolved for the plains.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

They also may have been hunted by the earliest immigrants who first came from Asia 20,000 years ago. I can’t imagine there were enough Indians to cause them to go extinct though.

stanleybmanly's avatar

That is the speculation on why most of the the larger animals disappeared, but you have to factor the last ice age in as the great devastator of everything. It’s a tricky issue because all that ice tied up so much of the earth’s water that sea level fell to expose the land bridge to Asia, allowing us to migrate here. So were the animals here for us to wipe them out, or had the ice done the job before we arrived? I can just imagine the scenario of human beings trudging through blizzards to get to North America with herds of horses galloping past them headed in the opposite direction.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

I think flora and fauna further south fared OK tho. Horses can adapt to pretty cold weather, too. The plains are such a perfect habitat that it’s a mystery.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

@erdgirl5 Of course the OP knows there are horses in Europe.

phil630's avatar

The commonly held view is that American horses are all descended from the ones that the Spanish brought. This may well be true. There are native zebra in Africa and early species of horses in Asia (Przewalski’s horse) from which the European domestic breeds are derived. However, world-wide, native horse-like animals are pretty rare.

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