- What were the ancestors like?
- On the discovery of N. M. Przhevalsky
- Przewalski's horse: description
- Lifestyle and diet
- About reserves
- Security and issues
- Interesting facts
Probably, many are interested in the question of how horses originated. Is there any connection between these animals, for example, with zebras and what did the most ancient ancestor look like?
Scientists believe that he lived 54 million years ago and became the ancestor of such a species of mammal as the zebra. Due to the fact that the period of residence of the ancestor was called the Eocene, the original name of the mammal was “eohippus”. It was later renamed Hyracotherium.
After reading the article, it will be possible to learn about one of the oldest species of mammal. Here we will talk in more detail about the Przewalski's horse.
What were the ancestors like?
This animal didn't look like a horse. It had a small stature (about 30 cm in height), an arched back and a long tail. His bumpy teeth were not at all like the teeth of a modern horse. In Hyracotherium, the forelegs had small hooves and four toes, while the hind legs were without hooves and had three toes. habitatsancient mammal - the plains of East Asia, European woodlands and wet forests of North America.
Subsequently, eogippus became a descendant of Hyracotherium (height was less than 1.5 meters). In the process of evolution, it moved to more solid soils, with herbaceous and shrubby vegetation. The swift running of a modern horse is the result of an ancestor living in a convenient and spacious area for this: flat, hilly, steppe. Eohippus was brown in color and the size of an average sheep. His muzzle and mane were short, his tail was long, his eyes were large.
Subsequently, his descendant was anchitherium - an animal about the size of a small pony. Its color was sandy, with slightly pronounced brown or gray stripes. This was about 25 million years ago. Anchiteria began to live in dry meadows, where they also ran fast and could travel long distances during the day in search of safe places and food.
The penultimate predecessor of modern horses - pliogippus, who lived in North America about 2 million years ago. His jaws were already adapted for chewing coarse grass. Legs with well-formed hooves have become longer, the body has become more slender and agile.
The last horse - hipparion - looks like a gazelle. She lived in Africa, Europe, North America and Asia. The abundance of this species was so huge that it fully explains the wide distribution of the horse throughout the modern world. The last hipparion died over a million years ago.
Ekvus - the only modern genus of the horse family. This wild horse (as scientists call it) looked a bit like a zebra, as it had pronounced stripes on its body and a short mane on its head. Tail - with a thicker hairline. Branches of the genus are the steppe and forest tarpans, which became extinct at the very beginning of the 20th century, and the Przewalski's horse.
Scientists-hippologists divide all wild horses into 3 main types - forest, steppe tarpans and Przewalski's horse.
The main differences are related to their habitat and lifestyle. For example, in natural conditions, the habitats of the Przewalski horse are vast areas of steppes, forest-steppes and semi-desert regions of Europe and Kazakhstan, the territory of Russia and the southern regions of the Trans-Baikal Territory and Siberia.
On the discovery of N. M. Przhevalsky
The horse owes its name to its discoverer - the great Russian naturalist and traveler Przhevalsky Nikolai Mikhailovich.
The routes of his expeditions passed through the territory of the Asian part of Eurasia (Tibet), and their main goal was to study and describe the nature of the region. Scientists discovered wild horses in 1879. This was the third trip through the territories of Central Asia. The herd was discovered at the foot of the Tang-La Pass.
After the end of the expedition, N. M. Przhevalsky (in 1881) made a detailed description of an animal unknown at that time to science. This species of wild animal was named after him, although it was not the only onethe discovery of the great Russian zoologist.
Przewalski's horse: description
The ancestors of this animal were tarpans. The Przewalski's horse has the status of an animal species that has disappeared from nature. Today it can only be seen in special reserves and reserves, as well as in zoos.
The length of the horse's body is about 2 m, the height at the withers reaches 1.5 m, the maximum weight is 350 kg. This species is considered primitive, retaining the features of both a donkey and a horse. The horse has a massive, dense physique, a large head and a powerful neck. Her legs are strong and short. Wide-set eyes are small, ears are small, but quite sensitive and mobile. The stiff and erect mane on the head is short, there are no bangs. The tail is very long. The color of most of the body is sandy brown, the belly and muzzle are lighter, and the legs, mane and tail are almost black. In summer, the coat is short, and in winter it is thick with a warm undercoat.
A brief description of the Przewalski's horse - quite massive, strong and hardy.
Once this horse was common in Mongolia, China and western Kazakhstan. Herds then moved through the forest-steppes, steppes, vast semi-deserts and foothill plateaus. It was here that animals obtained their food, water and found shelter, wandering from place to place.
The last natural habitat of the horse is the region of Dzungaria (Central Asia), where several individuals were caught (beginning of the 20th century), which gave rise to a population thatwas bred in captivity. This made it possible to preserve the appearance of the horse on the entire planet.
Currently, this horse lives in protected areas in America, Asia, Europe, as well as in the area of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. According to zoologists, Przewalski's horses have already formed 3 full-fledged herds in the wild today. In addition, these animals are kept in the largest reserves and zoos in the world.
Lifestyle and diet
In short, the Przewalski's horse is not a domesticated, wild horse, largely retaining the character and habits of an animal that lives in the wild. She leads a herd life. An adult stallion, several females and foals represent the herd. There are also herds consisting of bachelor males, which can be joined by old males who no longer know how to manage their own herd.
The herds are forced to roam all the time in search of food. In case of any danger, the herds can run a short distance at a gallop at a speed of approximately 50 km/h.
Mostly, Przewalski's horses graze in the morning or at dusk, and during the day they rest, sitting on some hill, from where a good view of the surrounding area opens. Usually foals and mares doze, and the male inspects the surroundings for danger.
The diet is a variety of herbs and cereals: feather grass, wormwood, wild onions, etc. In winter, they tear up the snow to get grass from under it. Animals in captivity eatlocal plants.
In cold or, conversely, hot climatic conditions, the horses of the herd gather in a tight circle, defending themselves from temperature changes.
Przewalski's horses, as noted above, practically do not live in the wild. The main livestock of this animal is concentrated in nature reserves and reserves, which are under the protection of the governments of those countries where they are available.
Prague Zoo, Askania-Nova Nature Reserve and many other protected areas are responsible for maintaining the stud book of this horse species. In Mongolia and China, a program was launched in 1992, the purpose of which is to return these horses to their natural habitat. Captive-bred young are released into the wild. To date, approximately 300 animals have been released under this program.
The final count of the number of existing Przewalski's horses living in zoos around the world is maintained by the Prague Zoo. Today, there are approximately 2,000 individuals in captivity. Several individuals also live in Russian sanctuaries and reserves. There are also in China, Mongolia and other countries.
Security and issues
This amazing, rare animal is listed not only in the Russian Red Book. The Przewalski's horse is also included in the list of the international book. This population was not only preserved, but also increased thanks to the efforts of international wildlife sanctuaries, zoos and other communities.
Difficulties in this work -inevitable closely related crosses due to the fact that all horses of this species are descendants of 15 individuals caught at the beginning of the 20th century in Dzungaria. With all this, scientists believe that today this species has positive prospects, as it was possible to overcome the moment when the animals were on the verge of extinction.
- Often, wild horses huddle in a group, forming a kind of ring (standing with their heads towards the center of the circle) and placing small foals in the center of the circle. This is a way to protect offspring from predator attacks.
- Since 1985, work has been carried out to reintroduce these horses into the wild. There are positive results, which is quite encouraging.