PaleoLab: Horses and Grasslands

August 4, 2010 - April 10, 2011

Have there always been horses in Oregon? Where did modern horses come from? The answers may surprise you.

Horses evolved in North America, and many species of horse ancestors have been found in Oregon fossil beds going back over 50 million years—but they went extinct in North America 12,000 years ago, at the same time as the mastodons and mammoths, and modern horses. The horses living in Oregon today are actually immigrants, even though their ancestors evolved here. In this second section of the three-part series, "PaleoLab–Oregon's Past Revealed," UO Paleontologists explain how the history of horses and grasslands are intertwined, and how together they became a force of global climate change.

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