Investigating the Evolution of Digit Reduction in Fossil Horses

August 23, 2017
Horse in Morning Light by Ron Eskins on Flickr

Graduate student, Brianna McHorse (Biewener and S. Pierce Lab),  used beam bending to study fossil horses (Equidae) to shed light on the evolutionary forces that led to digit reduction. The study,  in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, supports two historical hypotheses: increased body mass and limb elongation, and elucidates the mystery of the modern horse. One of the most extreme examples of digit reduction, modern horses evolved from four toes in the front and three in the behind to a single toe on all fours. The study is covered by The GuardianScience DailyPhys.Org, Smithsonian Magazine, and Inverse Science.

Image: Horse in Morning Light by Ron Eskins on Flickr