Florida Museum of Natural History

archaeohippus skull Archaeohippus

This tiny Miocene browsing horse was about the size of a collie. It co-existed with the grazing horses that were diversifying throughout the drier open savannah habitats of this time.

Where & When? Archaeohippus fossils are found in Nebraska, Oregon, California, and Florida. Species in this genus lived from 21 - 13 million years ago.

Were all fossil horses larger than their ancestors?

Archaeohippus means ancient horse

Though many horses became larger than their ancestors, Archaeohippus actually became quite a bit smaller! Archaeohippus descended from the larger Miohippus. Nannippus is another example of a horse that was smaller than its ancestors.

Archaeohippus was a small, sleek, graceful animal that had an elongated snout. The molar shape (crown height) of Archaeohippus suggests that it was a forest dweller, or inhabited an open woodland. It ate a seasonally variable diet of leaves and other nonfibrous foods. Based on modern analogues, individuals were either solitary or formed territorial breeding pairs, and they had small home ranges. Archaeohippus individuals probably lived 4-5 years.

Although not as common as Parahippus, specimens of Archaeohippus blackbergi are often found during our spring Pony Express fossil camp. Skulls of this animal, however, are quite rare. A composite skeleton was mounted from bones found during these digs and is displayed in our new fossil exhibit.


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