|A horse fossil from a now extinct tiny horse found at Oregon's Paisley Caves|
Horses and people are an iconic pairing in stories of the Old West. But as researchers at the UO's Museum of Natural and Cultural History recently found, human-horse relations go way back — back to the old west that was Oregon during the last ice age.
A new study by those researchers reveals that a small, stout-legged horse species known as Equus conversidens — sometimes known as the Mexican horse, which once roamed parts of North America — coexisted with people around Oregon’s Paisley Caves more than 14,000 years ago.
The study, published online ahead of print in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, was coauthored by paleontologist Edward Davis and archaeologist Dennis Jenkins — along with paleo-horse experts Brianna McHorse of Harvard University and Eric Scott at California State University, Fullerton.
Using discriminant analysis, a quantitative approach that relies on available data to predict the identity of unknown species, the authors examined horse toe fossils recovered during the museum’s 2009-2010 archaeological investigations at Paisley Caves.
The recent study represents the first time such a replicable analytic approach has been used to identify horse species based only on toe bones. It also points to the first known occurrence of this horse species in Oregon. [...] Around the O