back to article Flippin' Equus! Unfeasibly old horse bone DNA triumph

Biologists have sequenced the oldest full genome from a horse bone, in the process discovering that the ancient ancestor of the modern horse first appeared four million years ago, nearly twice as early as previously thought. What has the science world most excited, though, is the fact that they were even able to work on such old …

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Coat

"..the ancient ancestor of the modern horse first appeared four million years ago..."

...and three million, nine hundred and ninety nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety five years ago, Tesco launched their value beefburger range.

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I wonder if this equine-DNA-discovery could explain the pack of Tesco "Value" Bison-burgers I found recently at the back of the fridge with "Best before: End of Pleistocene epoch" on it.

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Was just about to say...

It's amazing what they can tell from a pack of burgers nowadays..

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FAIL

How

can the first horse have existed 4 million years ago, when the world is only 6000 years old?

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Childcatcher

Re: How

...can the first horse have existed 4 million years ago, when the world is only 6000 years old?

<DEITY>DON'T MAKE ME COME DOWN THERE AND RETCON YOU!</DEITY>

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Happy

Re: How

In the beginning was the Horse...

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Coat

Re: How

> can the first horse have existed 4 million years ago, when the world is only 6000 years old?

Should one subscribe to that particular mythology, there is only one logical conclusion:

There was only God before creation. Horse existed before creation. Therefore God is a horse.

Simple, yet profound.

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Joke

Re: How

"In the beginning was the Horse..."

In which case the first words spoken were "Let there be carrots!"

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Re: How

Mine certainly thinks he's divine...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How

I'm sure a school board somewhere in Texas is re-writing the press release right now.

Evolution is a communist plot you know.

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Coat

Re: How

I would have gone with:

Love thy Neighhhhhhhbour.

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Re: How

Those are 4 million hourse years, dumb ass.

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Stablised

Looking forward to "Pliocene Stable" where a crazy millionaire clones an ancient proto-equine and then heartwarmingly they win the Kentucky Derby because one teenage girl believes in them, in spite of being only 18" high at the shoulder. The perfect balance of "Jurassic Park" and "Racing Stripes."

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Re: Stablised

Except that modern race horses have been selectively bred for speed over 1.5 miles. They haven't been bred for survival against the kind of predators that existed four million years ago. So while those ancient horses were probably bigger, stronger, tougher, etc, they likely weren't as fast. Nor were they likely as willing to have simians on their backs.

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Joke

Re: Stablised

You have clearly never watched Racing Stripes - it wasn't a problem for that talking zebra is all I'm saying.

Also, if I'm honest, I can't imagine there are many other Reg readers who have watched Racing Stripes.

If you look at the early record for equines they were really little - eohippus fossils are little bigger than a mousedeer - the other horse species ( many of which seem to have been inferred from fairly slim evidence- as far as I can tell the existence of Equus Giganteus is inferred almost entirely from a couple of fossil teeth ) may have been bigger but they were also way more recent.

What I would be really interested to find more about would be what this can tell us about the differences between the american equine strains, which appear to have died out well before the modern era, and the European ones that survived through domestication.

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Re: Stablised

"So while those ancient horses were probably bigger, stronger, tougher, etc,"

You've got that a bit wrong - they were significantly smaller than nearly all modern horses, can't remember exactly but maybe the size of a large-ish dog. They weren't any tougher either as their main form of defence was running away, and they had multi-toed feet rather than single hooves. Over time as they turned running away into an art form, they spent more & more time up on their toes and eventually the middle toe only - which evolved into the hoof as we know it today. They still have vestigal toes which stop about half way down their lower leg, and the current hoof is really an evolved toe nail.

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Boffin

Hyracotherium angustidens

IT will always be Eohippus to me!

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Coat

Re: Stablised

Yeah, "Black Eohippus" just doesn't quite have the ring to it.

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Headmaster

Re: Stablised

Makybe Diva would like to have a word with you about "bred for 1.5 miles".

As for simians on back: it only takes one to be willing.

Literally: it was apparently one, lone stallion in the Asiatic steppes that was willing to have somebody sit on him and from whom all our rideable horses are descendents. (source: The Horse, the Wheel, and Language" by David Anthony, who specialises in that research.)

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Re: Stablised

I'd venture the guess that you'll find a close genetic relationship between Przewalski's Horses and Tarpans. In fact, some quick research on some of the "horsey" sites I frequent (so yeah, I'm a geek who rides and owns horses, what of it?), indicate that horses evolved in the Americas and only survived because they migrated westward into Asia.

Interesting link here. Well interesting for those who are into horses.

http://horsetalk.co.nz/2012/11/29/why-did-horses-die-out-in-north-america/

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Stablised

"ancient horses were probably bigger". Actually smaller.

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Coat

Re: Stablised

And that one stallion was, no doubt, ridden by Mitochondrial Eve.

@breakfast, start taking your "Pliocene Stable" script round Hollywood, it's a winner!

(yes, I know the timing's all wrong... never stopped Hollywood before)

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Trollface

Re: Stablised

Stubbing a toe that size must be extremely painful

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Stablised

"Well interesting for those who are into horses." I believe that's illegal on this side of the pond!

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Joke

Evolutionary biologists

Always thought that was a slightly odd title. Can i find creationist biologists somewhere?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Evolutionary biologists

I dunno. But if you follow the signs, you might be able to find a pictionary biologist.

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Unhappy

Re: Evolutionary biologists

I just fed "creationist biologists" into Google. It said yes. Depressing, isn't it.

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WTF?

Beating What?

“We have beaten the time barrier,”? More like beating a dead horse.

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Devil

Inspiration for another Syfy Channel movie!

Horsasaurus vs. Dinocroc, here we come!

(Now THAT's some quality programming!)

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Anonymous Coward

While in France...

primitive man rubbed two sticks together in eager anticipation of a good steak...

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Happy

Time barrier

Now, you say you have beaten the time barrier, so well done. Now just tell me, who is going to win the 3:30 at Newbury tomorrow?

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Pint

Re: Time barrier

A little filly named Time Barrier...

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Anonymous Coward

knowing me knowing you

And in the words of Alan Partridge - "Jurassic Park!!".

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Coat

If they were

beating it at some point, they would certainly have a world record there.

(one that would be hard to beat)

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Anonymous Coward

Age variations...

The answer for why the dating metods are at odds with the 6k year age of the earth and the answer is found in Genesis. For the first 1000 years after creation the earth was covered by a cloud layer thick enough to affect the amount of radiation being absorbed by living mater. When you extrapolate the decay rates pre vs post flood you end up with wildly varying dates in the past as the dating methods assume uniform absorption based on today's irradiation levels. Basically bad science. The recovered DNA is probably around 5000 years old trapped in the ice in the post flood climate shifts...

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Phar Lap can be sequenced then?

The last word was that the DNA was "too damaged" after less than 100 years to be properly sequenced.

The skin is in a museum in Melbourne, the skeleton is in New Zealand and the heart is in Canberra I believe.

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