Describe what fossils reveal about the evolution of the horse

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describe what fossils reveal about the evolution of the horse

Written in Stone: Evolution, the Fossil Record, and Our Place in Nature by Brian Switek

“Switek seamlessly intertwines two types of evolution: one of life on earth and the other of paleontology itself.”—Discover Magazine

““In delightful prose, [Switek] . . . superbly shows that ‘[i]f we can let go of our conceit,’ we will see the preciousness of life in all its forms.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Highly instructive . . . a warm, intelligent yeoman’s guide to the progress of life.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Magisterial . . . part historical account, part scientific detective story. Switek’s elegant prose and thoughtful scholarship will change the way you see life on our planet. This book marks the debut of an important new voice.”—Neil Shubin

“Elegantly and engagingly crafted, Brian Switek’s narrative interweaves stories and characters not often encountered in books on paleontology—at once a unique, informative and entertaining read.”—Niles Eldredge

“If you want to read one book to get up to speed on evolution, read Written in Stone. Brian Switek’s clear and compelling book is full of fascinating stories about how scientists have read the fossil record to trace the evolution of life on Earth.”—Ann Gibbons

“[Switeks] accounts of dinosaurs, birds, whales, and our own primate ancestors are not just fascinating for their rich historical detail, but also for their up-to-date reporting on paleontology’s latest discoveries.”—Carl Zimmer

After reading this book, you will have a totally new context in which to interpret the evolutionary history of amphibians, mammals, whales, elephants, horses, and especially humans.”—Donald R. Prothero

Spectacular fossil finds make todays headlines; new technology unlocks secrets of skeletons unearthed a hundred years ago. Still, evolution is often poorly represented by the media and misunderstood by the public. A potent antidote to pseudoscience, Written in Stone is an engrossing history of evolutionary discovery for anyone who has marveled at the variety and richness of life.


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How Horses Took Over North America (Twice)

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A fossil is the preserved remains of a dead organism from millions of years ago. Fossils are found in rocks and can be formed from:. Fossil remains have been found in rocks of all ages. Fossils of the simplest organisms are found in the oldest rocks, and fossils of more complex organisms in the newest rocks. This supports Darwin's theory of evolution , which states that simple life forms gradually evolved into more complex ones. Evidence for early forms of life comes from fossils. By studying fossils, scientists can learn how much or how little organisms have changed as life developed on Earth.

The evolution of the horse , a mammal of the family Equidae , occurred over a geologic time scale of 50 million years, transforming the small, dog-sized, [1] forest-dwelling Eohippus into the modern horse. Paleozoologists have been able to piece together a more complete outline of the evolutionary lineage of the modern horse than of any other animal. Much of this evolution took place in North America, where horses originated but became extinct about 10, years ago. The horse belongs to the order Perissodactyla odd-toed ungulates , the members of which all share hooved feet and an odd number of toes on each foot, as well as mobile upper lips and a similar tooth structure. This means that horses share a common ancestry with tapirs and rhinoceroses. The perissodactyls arose in the late Paleocene , less than 10 million years after the Cretaceous—Paleogene extinction event. This group of animals appears to have been originally specialized for life in tropical forests , but whereas tapirs and, to some extent, rhinoceroses, retained their jungle specializations, modern horses are adapted to life on drier land, in the much harsher climatic conditions of the steppes.

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Evidence from Fossils

This drawing was created in , but it's likely that you recognize the animal it depicts as a horse. Although horses haven't changed that much since this drawing was made, they have a long evolutionary history during which they changed significantly. How do we know? The answer lies in the fossil record. The fossil record reveals how horses evolved. The lineage that led to modern horses Equus grew taller over time from the 0.

The evolutionary lineage of the horse is among the best-documented in all paleontology. The history of the horse family , Equidae , began during the Eocene Epoch , which lasted from about 56 million to The legs ended in padded feet with four functional hooves on each of the forefeet and three on each of the hind feet—quite unlike the unpadded, single-hoofed foot of modern equines. Eohippus was, in fact, so unhorselike that its evolutionary relationship to the modern equines was at first unsuspected. It was not until paleontologists had unearthed fossils of later extinct horses that the link to Eohippus became clear.

Fossils tell us when organisms lived, as well as provide evidence for the progression and evolution of life on earth over millions of years. Fossils are the preserved remains or traces of animals, plants, and other organisms from the past. Fossils range in age from 10, to 3. The observation that certain fossils were associated with certain rock strata led 19th century geologists to recognize a geological timescale. Like extant organisms, fossils vary in size from microscopic, like single-celled bacteria, to gigantic, like dinosaurs and trees.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Maryse N. says:

    The horse series has long been a showcase of evolution.

  2. Lara B. says:

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