Ice Age Horse

Equus lambei was a small horse about the size of a modern pony. It had a long, flowing, blondish mane.

Ice Age Horse

During the last Ice Age, it roamed in large numbers in the area now known as the Yukon and Alaska. It shared its habitat with the woolly mammoth, the scimitar cat, short-faced bears, the steppe bison and the camel. The Ice Age Horse crossed the Bering Land Bridge into Asia. The changing conditions brought about by the last glaciation may have caused the extinction of the horse in North America more than 10,000 years ago. The domesticated horse found in the Old World was reintroduced into the New World by European explorers.

Ice Age Horse

There were two kinds of horses in Alaska during the late Pleistocene: true horses Equus ferus and the ass-like Equus hemonius.  Like steppe bison, both horse species were grazers and spread across Eurasia and into Alaska.  Judging from Siberian Pleistocene mummies, Eqquus ferus looked similar to the wild Asiatic horse which had a reddish-brown body with a black upright mane and black tail and legs.

Judging from the occurrence of their fossils, Equus ferus inhabited the lowland areas whereas Equus hemonius preferred the upland areas.  Both species declined in Alaska prior to 11,00 years ago but continued to exist into modern times in central Asia. Domestic horses were bred from Equus ferus in the Middle East about 3,00 years ago.

Photo Digital Enhancement by Ben Boyd

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