Monday, 14 May 2018

Utah Landscapers Discover Remains of Ice Age Horse

By Laura Geggel, Senior Writer | May 7, 2018 06:34am ET

During the last ice age, a small horse about the size of a Shetland pony somehow trampled into a big lake. It's unclear how the animal died, but its body fell to the bottom of the lake, where it lay buried for about 16,000 years — that is, until this past fall, when landscapers in Utah unexpectedly unearthed the horse's remains in their backyard.

The discovery is a rare one. Horses lived in North America from about 50 million to 11,000 years ago, when they went extinct on the continent before being reintroduced by the Europeans thousands of years later, but it's uncommon to find horse remains in Utah, a state that was partly covered by the prehistoric Lake Bonneville. (This ancient lake has since dwindled, forming several smaller lakes, including the Great Salt Lake.)

It's impossible to know how the horse died, but Rick Hunter, a paleontologist at the Museum of Ancient Life, in Lehi, Utah, who is studying the horse's remains, has several ideas. Perhaps the horse made its way into the lake and then drowned while trying to escape from an ice age predator, such as a short-faced bear or saber-toothed cat, he said. Or maybe the horse died in a stream whose waters emptied into the lake. [10 Extinct Giants That Once Roamed North America]

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