Sunday, May 21, 2006

Wild Horses as Native Wildlife

I'm writing a college research paper on wild horses in North America, and I'm arguing that they should be reclassified as reintroduced native wildlife because 1) Horses originally evolved here 2) Humans may have caused the extinction of the horse 3) the Native horses were the same species as domestic horses 4) Horses have been in N. America for several hundred years and have become a part of the ecosystem

. If anyone has any websites or print articles with research regarding this, I'd appreciate it if you left a comment or sent an email. So far I have started the paper and am going into the evolution of the horse in North America, from eohippus up through Equus in the pleistocene epoch. I am looking at the various theories of the extinction-- there appear to be two major theories, the "overkill" hypothesis that states early humans hunted large mammals to extinction, and the "climate" hypothesis in which the animals were unable to adapt to a change in weather and vegetation. The most popular theory appears to be a combo of the two.

I also heard about a third less popular "surviving horses" theory that states that some horses may have survived and may have interbred with introduced horses. But there is no fossil evidence. I'm curious as to why anyone seriously considers this theory as possible. I can't find any scholarly articles on this theory, other than a reference to "Clutton-Brock 1981" but I'm unable to locate this source.

I also heard of some small horses that live on the Pima indian reservation in Az... actually when I was down there I met a young Indian woman who said her brother captured some to train them. I checked with the BLM and there are no herd management areas there, so who owns these "wild" horses? Are they property of the tribe? Are they spanish mustangs? If anyone has any info on this I'd really appreciate it.

I was able to locate Weinstock's mitochondrial DNA research that claims there were two species of equine in N. America-- the Stilt-legged horse and the caballine (true) horse that is the same species as the modern horse.

It's interesting to see how we humans define "nature" and "natural". If the horse had "naturally" been reintroduced to North America, or had been hunted to the brink of extinction but later experienced population expansion, it would be considered native. But if it was released by humans, it no longer is considered native. The truth is that there is really little-- if any-- nature left, and when we set up these goals to preserve something as natural, or to manage things to keep them 'natural', by our very interference we are making things unnatural... I could turn this essay into a commentary on our society and how we view ourselves as separate from nature, but how we really aren't.


  • "I also heard of some small horses that live on the Pima indian reservation in Az...?"

    I don't know about the Pima, but the Havaisupi(spelling?)were said to have animals that closley fit that description. Try: www.spanishmustang.org

    By Blogger Equus fanaticus, at 2:15 PM, August 29, 2006  

  • I believe the "surviving horses theory" was also proposed by the noted biologist M.F. Ashley-Montague, but it was recently somewhat weakened by research copublished by Alan Cooper:


    O well, that still leaves the "Early Phoenician Reintroduction Theory":


    I still believe that the health of N. America's flora, and Equus s. are undeniably interdependant.

    By Blogger Equus fanaticus, at 3:16 PM, August 29, 2006  

  • Yes you are 100% correct that wild equines (like the Grand Canyon burros) should be regarded as indigenous or native animals.

    See my online book, chapter 4:


    best regards


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:45 AM, September 13, 2006  

  • For more on the "surviving horses theory" and other theories concerning the "impossible history" of the horse in the Americas, contact Yuri Kuchinsky in Toronto.
    Or search for some of his sites.

    By Anonymous Equus fanaticus, at 9:21 PM, September 05, 2007  

  • This may, or may not, be helpful.(?)

    Database: Cornell University Library

    Author/Creator: Holmes, F. S. (Francis Simmons), 1815-1882.

    Title: The horse not originally imported into America from the East.

    Published: [Charleston, 1858]

    By Anonymous Equus fanaticus, at 11:16 AM, October 22, 2007  

  • At:




    you will find two sites concerning the preservation of a nearly extinct, tarpan-like horse on a reserve in Portugal, that was also exported into the US, ca. 1493. During his research, the project's main publicist, Hardy Oelke of Germany, was said to have come across a strange mitochondrial DNA group among America's feral horses. The mtDNA in question could never be directly linked to the Portuguese Sorraia horse, and was sometimes referred to as "the mystery mtDNA". Some have chosen to believe them to be representative of a surviving remnant population of Equus occidentalis, the original American, nonferal, wild horse.
    Since the animals in question did exhibited an extremely "primitive" appearance, i.e. dun factor markings; reduced, or absent ergots especially on the rear legs; rudimentary nipples on the penile sheaths of some males(peculiar to both zebras, and asses, and not generally present in E. caballos), etc. ..., it was decided they did at least represent some form of aberration from known modern breeds.
    It is not known if this group of animals was preserved in purity, or absorbed into the Sorraia mustang project. I can not give you any further information, except to suggest that you contact some of the people in the Spanish Mustang Registry that may still be in possession of them.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:07 PM, October 22, 2007  

  • It also should be mentioned here, that if you do ever attempt to contact some of the people in possession of these "anomalous mustangs", do not expect them to be especially trusting of your motives. From what is known, both their personal safety, as well as their property, has already been threatened for merely asking the right questions - to the wrong authorities.
    At the time they, apparently, did not fully understand the political ramifications of what they had stumbled onto. It goes without saying, that there is more than one large, national industry that could have a lot to loose, if certain equines could be proven to be the survivors of the indigenous, North American, caballos species.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:31 AM, October 23, 2007  

  • By Blogger Laura and Dan's Updates, at 10:10 AM, February 08, 2008  

  • Possible(?) sources for the "surviving horses" theory:

    Clutton-Brock J, 1992. Horse power: a history of the horse and the donkey in human societies. London: Natural History Museum Publications.

    Clutton-Brock J, 1996. Horses in history. In: Horses through time, 1st ed (Olsen S, ed). Dublin: Roberts Rinehart Publishers; 83–102.

    Hope this helps.

    I believe your inquiries have far more significance than just the rescue of a few, feral horses. It involves the restabilization of a climate that is slipping into chaos, and the survival of all human kind via their intended purpose in God's plan.

    - Cowboy Billy

    (Yes, most ranch families are on the side of the Earth: we have been watching the seasons, and the climate, change for many generations, now. But sticking our necks out in public can be fatal. Big Agribusiness has little tolerance for opinions, other than those of its accountants. And sadly, it is a scary fact that bean counters are generally myopic.)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:22 AM, September 10, 2008  

  • “There is a body of evidence both from the mainland of Central America and even from rock drawings in Haiti itself tending to show that the horse may have been known to man in the Americas before the coming of the Spaniards.”

    Ivan T. Sanderson, in Science, 93, 507 (May 30, 194; p. 91).

    Someone needs to follow this up, before it is to late!

    - E. O. Hunter

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:35 AM, October 14, 2008  

  • (continued)

    Some members of the Yakama Nation believe that, "the horse was always here...even before the Spanish arrived":

    You may also want to look up Yuri Kachinsky (The Mystery Of The Indian Pony), in Toronto , to see if he has come across any further evidence. Few of his sites are still on the web (How Did The Horse Get To America), however many of his post can still be found in Usenet discussion groups.

    I also heard it rumored that the author, Hardy Oelke (of Sorraia Horse fame) once identified a group of horses in the USA's Spanish Mustang Registry with a peculiarly type of Mt DNA that could not be accounted for by European imports. It was then being referred to as the "mystery" Mt DNA. I wonder whatever became of this early research? I also recall hearing that these animals were taken into the Sorraia Mustang Project, based solely on their strangely primitive appearance, even though the Iberian Sorraia possessed an entirely different type of Mt DNA.

    Hardy Oelke, and America's Sorraia Mustangs:

    The Spanish Mustang Registry:

    - E O Hunter

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:26 AM, October 14, 2008  

  • Many institutions limit access to their online information. Making this information available will be an asset to all.

    By Anonymous College Research Paper, at 3:16 AM, November 10, 2009  

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