Please remember!

The information presented on this blog represents "learning in progress" on my part, a horse owner, who was not satisfied with professional farriers and took matters in my own hands. As far as I am aware at the time of the post, the information presented is correct, but may change with me understanding more about hooves, in which case I will edit or remove the post. In order to follow my learning and understand everything about Molly's hoof, you need to start reading at the bottom.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Natural asymmtery - fossil horse bones

The ancestor of all mammals (and thus the horse) had five digits on each limb involved in locomotion. The horse, while still having remnants of all 5 digits, has reduced 4 of them and only uses one for locomotion: the middle digit (III), equivalent to the human middle finger. The reduction of the weight bearing digits was gradual during horse evolution, as can be seen here:

As an evolutionary biologist, I find it interesting to look at the evolution of the bones, changes that occurred represent mainly adaptations of the horse lineage to its environment, and also developmental constraints.

I was very excited to see this study. The authors report a well-preserved skeleton of a 4.6 million-y-old three-toed horse (Hipparion zandaense) from the Zanda Basin, southwestern Tibet.

Hipparion zandanese must have looked like this:

 In the supplemental material of the PNAS paper, they show actual pictures of fossilized (4.6 Million years old) bones.

Based on what I know about the horse's hoof, I think the Figure legend must be a mistake, this is not the right front foot, but the left, based on the shape of the coffin bone. The coffin bone of this 4.6 Million year old ancestor of the modern horse shows a clear asymmetry,  that is also characteristic of the modern horse, including MINE! Most likely the steeper and slightly smaller medial side is adaptive for the horse, exactly why I have not yet figured out, but will try and find answers. The answer will lay in the biomechanics of the hoof.

No comments:

Post a Comment