Everything comes from somewhere....
|White Horse in Field by Helena Lopes (Pexels.com)|
The other day I read that horses in North America were brought here in the 1400s by Spanish conquistadors. As you know, they rode them all across what was once known as Spanish America.
But then another day I read that there were horses in North America 10,000 years ago.
What happened? I know this part of the story--the horses of North America went extinct along with most of the other New World megafauna during the Quaternary extinction event at the Pleistocene-Holocene transition.
While the causes have been widely debated, their disappearance was rapid. Was it climate change? (Beginning around 12,500 years ago, the grasses characteristic of a open plains ecosystem radically changed.) Or was it people? Was it just due to overexploitation of large animals by those newly arrived humans.
In any case, this brought up a deep question: Are horses native to North America? Or exactly where ARE they from?
This leads to our Search Challenge this week:
1. Where did horses (as a species) come from? That is, where are they native?
For our purposes, we'll define "horse" as some version of Equus that developed roughly 5 million years ago. Where did THEY develop? Where are they from?
The challenge here isn't really to find the information (that part is simple); the Challenge is to figure out what it means to be native (which I take to mean as "historically grew and developed in a particular place") and how we know that history about horses.
2. What other animals are/were native with the early horses? Can you name a few of the megafauna that also lived in the same territory as the horse? (I'm especially interested in other megafauna that might have interacted with horses.)
What can you find out? How do you know?