which means "dawn horse," is considered
by many to be an ancestor of modern horses. Some
paleontologists, however, believe that this
animal may instead have been a "cousin"
rather than direct ancestor.
size of a small dog, Eohippus was about 2 feet
long, and 12-14 inches high. It had four hoofed
toes on the front feet, 3 hoofed toes on its hind
feet, a short face with eyes in the middle, and a
short space between the front teeth and the cheek
teeth. It lived throughout most of the Northern
Hemisphere (Asia, Europe, and North America).
Like modern horses, Eohippus was probably a
grazing herbivore, feeding primarily on soft
leaves and plant shoots.
Eohippus lived during the early
Eocene Epoch, up to about 50 million years ago.
The first representative
fossils were found in England by comparative
anatomist Richard Owen
in 1841, and it was he who came up with the
scientific name Hyracotherium leporinum.
The first full skeleton was found in America by
Othniel Marsh in 1876, and it was he who coined
the name Eohippus. As more fossils were
found it became apparent that Owen's specimens
and Marsh's specimen were closely related, and
the two species were subsequently placed into the
genus Hyracotherium. Although Eohippus
is still commonly used to refer to this
horse-like animal, that name is now more properly
applied to the species which once roamed much of
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