Ground-breaking research by two anatomy professors at New York College of Osteopathic Medicine is verifying the theory that horses evolved through a process of natural selection.
Matthew Mihlbachler, Ph.D., and Nikos Solounias, Ph.D. arrived at the conclusion after examining the teeth of 6,500 fossil horses representing 222 different populations of more than 70 extinct horse species.
Their research indicates a lag time between the evolution of horse teeth and dietary changes resulting from climate change.
"Lag time in the evolution of horse teeth in comparison to dietary changes is critical," Mihlbachler explained. "We found that evolutionary changes in tooth anatomy lag behind the dietary changes by a million years or more."
Mihlbachler and Solounias' observation that dental changes in horses follow their dietary changes is consistent with evolution due to adaptation.
The duo's research shows that not only has the number of horse species been greatly reduced in the past few million years, but also that the diets of horses have been narrowly restricted.