ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Eohippus: the First Horse?

Updated on August 26, 2018
angela_michelle profile image

Angela, an animal lover, has a passion for learning and understanding God's creatures. As a born teacher she enjoys sharing her knowledge.

Fossil from a eohippus.
Fossil from a eohippus. | Source

The First Horse

Imagine an animal with a face like a fox, a tail like a donkey, body like a cat, and feet like a pig. That’s exactly what the eohippus looks like. Some scientists believe this to be the first horse that supposedly lived fifty-two million years ago, which is how it got the name dawn horse. Although the dawn horse resembled a fox more than a horse. Still, many scientists believe that this fox like creature eventually evolved into what we know as horses.

Instead of grazing on grass, it ate berries and leaves. They couldn’t eat hay and grass, because their teeth were very small and soft. Grass is very hard to chew and requires large strong teeth to chew. If a human were to eat grass, their teeth would grind down to their gums in two years.

The eohippus did not have the traditional horse face, but looked more like that of a fox.
The eohippus did not have the traditional horse face, but looked more like that of a fox. | Source

The Structure of an Eohippus

Although commonly referred to as the eohippus, which means the dawn horse i is more properly called the Hyracotherium. Othniel Marsh, an American paleontologist discovered the fossils of this creature and named it eohippus due to its similarities to the horse. Although it was noted that the eohippus was very similar if not identical to a creature British paleontologist Richard Own discovered that he named hyracotherium. After many years, it was discovered to be the same species and they went with the earlier name.

The eohippus only stood 10-20 inches tall, which is near the same height as a house cat. Their legs were higher in the back and shorter in the front, so when they ran they bounced like pigs. This caused them not to be very fast, so instead of running when they were scared they would hide behind trees in the dense forests where they lived. They did this to get away from large birds and crocodiles that would try to eat them.

They had padded paws with toes rather than hooves. Their only similarity to a horse is rather than having claws, they had little “hooflets” on each toe. Four toes on their front paws, and three toes on each of their back paws.

The body was round with a short neck and a tail like a donkey. They had a small head with small eyes that could not see very far ahead of them.

It’s doubtful they were very intelligent since they had very small brains.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Mammalia
Order
Perissodactyla
Family
Equidae
Genus
Eohippus
Species
E. angustidens

Habitat

It's original habitat was in North America. Many lived on the Eastern slopes of the Rockies. North America is believed to have been made up of jungles, marshlands, and forests when the dawn horse lived here. There also has been evidence they lived in Asia and Europe. The fossils found there are dated earlier than those found in North America, so some believe that they migrated to Europe and Asia while the continents were still connected.

It is believed that they became extinct due to the forests disappearing due to the world's natural cooling. As more areas of grassland and open areas appeared, they had less trees to hide from predators and they slowly died off.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This is a fossil of the Miohippus that is believed to have come right after the eohippus. This is a complete fossil of the Mesohippus, which was believed to come right after the Miohippus, two after the eohippus. This is a parahippus skull, which is fourth in line after the eohippus. Merrychippus or Merichippus
This is a fossil of the Miohippus that is believed to have come right after the eohippus.
This is a fossil of the Miohippus that is believed to have come right after the eohippus. | Source
This is a complete fossil of the Mesohippus, which was believed to come right after the Miohippus, two after the eohippus.
This is a complete fossil of the Mesohippus, which was believed to come right after the Miohippus, two after the eohippus. | Source
This is a parahippus skull, which is fourth in line after the eohippus.
This is a parahippus skull, which is fourth in line after the eohippus. | Source
Merrychippus or Merichippus
Merrychippus or Merichippus | Source

The Evolution of the Horse Per Some Evolutionists

Eohippus - at one time believed to be the first horse and named the dawn horse - 50-60 million years ago; 10-20 inches high, three toes in back four toes in front

Miohippus – “middle horse” - 40-50 million years ago; the size of a sheep, teeth grew bigger

Mesohippus - 26-40 million years ago; slightly bigger, outer toes much smaller, long slender trunk, eyes further back

Parahippus - 23 million years ago; side toes bared little weight, head, and teeth much larger

Merichippus - 17 million years ago; 40 inches high, body proportions identical to horse today, outer toes almost disappeared, center toe almost like a hoof

Pleohippus - 15 million years ago; had only one toe like a horse today

Equus – 10,000 years ago to today; 52 inches high (13 hands), large head, heavy neck, the hair stood up like a shaving brush, the true horse today

The Evolving Horse

Although as science has developed, beliefs around the Hyracotherium or Eohippus being the first horse is now debated even amongst those who are evolutionists. Although it is clear that they are related to some degree.

Some evolutionists believe that the eohippus is the earliest form that horses took, which is why they support the title of being the "dawn horse." Although beliefs are slowly shifting. It was believed that the animal began growing larger, with longer legs, and bigger eyes to see further. Those who were faster survived as more grasslands appeared, which promoted this new evolved change. With each horse that was born, the biggest, and fastest lived healthier longer lives giving birth to other big, fast horses.

When horses first walked this earth, their paws were good for padding through the muddy swamps, but with the harder colder ground, they needed firmer feet. It is believed instead of walking on their flat feet, the horse began walking on their toes, which allowed them to run faster and turn quicker.

The side toes of the eohippus is believed to have become less important because they mainly walked on their middle toe. This toe became bigger forming what we know as a hoof. Eventually, these side toes disappeared altogether. Evolutionists believe that the hock, which is located on the rear of a horses ankle is the only evidence of that side toe. It looks like a big callus referred to as chestnuts.

Their diet is believed to have evolved due to fewer berries being available. Those most equipped to eat grass, which was plentiful survived longer continuing the evolution into a horse.The horse’s teeth became bigger and stronger so that they could chew on the tough grass.


Evolution of the Horse

Source

The Forging Friendship Between Man and Horse

Horses are known for their great friendship. Many people value their horses like family. Though we didn’t always.

When man came on earth, many years after the eohippus, they first thought of horses as food. They drank their milk and ate their meat. They would make clothing out of their hide and tools out of their bones.

It didn’t take long for humans to realize that horses were more useful alive than dead. They began using horses to plow farms. During war, they would pull the chariots and carry the soldiers in all of their armor.

Years later, in Rome, they would do Chariot racing. Today, horses are still used in races.

Though the favorite use of a horse is as a friend. Many owners treat their horses like a member of the family.

Horses have become very useful workers and loyal friends. Many years before humans came onto the earth, the horse was much smaller, slower, and less wise. To survive, the horse evolved over millions of years and adapted to its new surroundings. Now there are over 300 breeds of horses and ponies.

Bibliography

  • A Celebration of the Horse. Motiere: Paris; 2000.
  • Crowell, Ann. Dawn Horse To Derby Winner. Praeger Publishers. New York, New York. 1973.
  • Davidson, Margaret. Seven True Horse Stories. Hastings House: New York, New York; 1979.
  • McBane, Susan. How Your Horse Works.David and Charles Book: United Kingdom: 2002.
  • Schafer, Susan Perfect Pets: Horses. Benchmark Books: Marshall Cavendish, New York; 2003.
  • Turner, Alan. National Geographic: Prehistoric Mammals. Firecrest Book Limited: Washington DC: 2004.
  • Werber, Toni. The World of Horses. Copper Beech Books: Brookfield, Connecticutt: 2002.

© 2010 Angela Michelle Schultz

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Elizabeth 

      21 months ago

      I love horses!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      ad 

      3 years ago

      thanks

    • profile image

      loolo 

      3 years ago

      I swear I looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooveeeeeeeeeee horses s much I feel like I have a connection with them

    • profile image

      Michael 

      4 years ago

      Thanks a bunch!

    • profile image

      kat 

      5 years ago

      its very nice

    • profile image

      joe 

      5 years ago

      thanks sooo much totally needed this info!!!

    • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      6 years ago from United States

      I am envious!

    • profile image

      amber 

      6 years ago

      i love horses to and have 8 of them.

    • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      6 years ago from United States

      Thank you.

    • profile image

      memow 

      6 years ago

      I loved it my love. It was wonderful.

    • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      6 years ago from United States

      Well sweetie, you are going to find that you know a lot of things others don't, and others know a lot of things you don't. That's why it is nice to share.

    • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      6 years ago from United States

      I'm glad your enjoyed it. :)

    • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      6 years ago from United States

      On my older articles, my sources are at the bottom, now they don't allow you to format your articles that way, but I feel like it is more appealing to read when the sources are at the bottom!

    • profile image

      kennedy shostak 

      6 years ago

      im in second grade and even i know that the eohippus lived 85 million years ago

    • profile image

      Flickr 

      6 years ago

      Very informational, thanks for sharing. Very informational.

    • profile image

      Kat 

      6 years ago

      Hi, very interesting. What are your sources? My hubby wrote "The Soul of a Horse, Life Lessons From the Herd?" and found the same date of origin, but I don't think he had the detail about what the horse originally looked like. I started reading this article after fining your very helpful article on Henry James.

    • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      7 years ago from United States

      Thank you for the nice compliment. :)

    • profile image

      Abiandkatie. 

      7 years ago

      amazing, just amazing.

    • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      8 years ago from United States

      Thank you! I'm completely fascinated by old bones and the history behind them.

    • Michael Shane profile image

      Michael Shane 

      8 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

      Wonderful & informative hub!

    • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      8 years ago from United States

      Michael Jay, thank you! I found this very interesting myself, that's why I ended up doing some research. There was so much more I could have added, but I was afraid I'd start boring people! LOL

    • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      8 years ago from United States

      Habee, thanks!

    • Michael Jay profile image

      Michael Jay 

      8 years ago

      Wow! Your hub is great! This is very interesting. Thanks for sharing this.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Wonderful hub! You know I love horses!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)