New research shows that pre-historic horses in Alaska may have been hunted into extinction by man, rather than by climate change as previously thought.The discovery by Andrew Solow of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, US, David Roberts of the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew and Karen Robbirt of the University of East Anglia (UEA) is published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
The accepted view had previously been that the wild horses became extinct long before the extinction of mammoths and the arrival of humans from Asia – ruling out the possibility that they were over-hunted by man. One theory had been that a period of climate cooling wiped them out.
However, the researchers have discovered that uncertainties in dating fossil remains and the incompleteness of fossil records mean that the survival of the horse beyond the arrival of humans cannot be ruled out. – more