Two teams of researchers have announced the discovery of a new species of fossil horse from 4.4 million-year-old deposits in Ethiopia.
About the size of a small zebra, Eurygnathohippus woldegabrieli had three-toed hooves and grazed the grasslands and shrubby woods in the Afar Region, the scientists say. They report their findings in the November issue of Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
Very complex puzzle
The horse fills a gap in the evolutionary history of horses but is also important for documenting how old a fossil locality is and in reconstructing habitats of human forebears of the time, said Scott Simpson, professor of anatomy at Case Western Reserve’s School of Medicine, and co-author of the research. “This horse is one piece of a very complex puzzle that has many, many pieces.”
The researchers found the first E. woldegabrieli teeth and bones in 2001, in the Gona area of the Afar Region. This fossil horse was among the diverse array of animals that lived in the same areas as the ancient human ancestor Ardipithecus ramidus, commonly called Ardi.
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