Researchers now believe that most horse evolution took place in the Americas. While the precise origin of the South American hooved animals is still unknown, scientists now suspect that the animals traveled down from North America more than 60 million years ago, probably just after the mass extinction that killed off non-avian dinosaurs and many other animals.
Today's horses, tapirs and rhinos might have relatives in Europe too. Remains of
, for example, were unearthed in London. This four-legged species is thought to have been a palaeothere, which refers to a family of plant-eating creatures close to the bottom of the horse family tree. They lived in forested areas and feasted on soft leaves, shoots, berries and other plant materials.
Image: Skeleton of
at the National Museum of Natural History
Hippos Related to Whales, Fossil Reveals