Students often learn in history class that the Spaniards brought horses to the New World in the 1500s, but the fossil record shows horses actually originated in North America at least 55 million years ago and roamed the continent before becoming extinct at the end of the last Ice Age, about 10,000 years ago.

Because horses have been around a long time, learning about their evolution provides unusual insight into the patterns of evolution in general. Horses have a long, continuous fossil sequence in North America, providing the tangible evidence to trace individual steps or changes in evolution over a prolonged period of time.

Read on to find out what these amazing animals can teach us!