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Fossil range: Late Pliocene - Late Pleistocene
File:Hippidion skeleton.JPG
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Perissodactyla
Family: Equidae
Genus: Hippidion
Roth, 1899

Hippidion (meaning little horse) was a Welsh pony-sized horse that lived in South America during the Pleistocene epoch, between two million and 10,000 years ago.

Hippidion has been considered a descendant of pliohippines[1], horses that migrated into the South American continent around 2.5 million years ago.[1][2] However, recent analysis of the DNA of Hippidion and other New World Pleistocene horses supports the novel hypothesis that Hippidion is actually a member of the living genus Equus, with a particularly close relationship to the wild horse, Equus ferus.[1][2] It stood about approximately 1.4 metres (4.6 ft) (also 13.2 hh) high at the shoulders and resembled a donkey. Evidence from the delicate structure of the nasal bones in the animal suggests that Hippidion evolved in isolation from the other horse species of North America.

Hippidion and other South American horses went extinct approximately 8000 years ago. Specific archaeological recovery at the Cueva del Milodon site in Patagonian Chile demonstrates that a species of Hippidion (Hippidion saldiasi)[3] existed in that vicinity in the era of 10,000 to 12,000 years before present. Horses did not reappear there until the 16th century, as a result of introduction by humans.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Weinstock, J.; et al. (2005). "Evolution, systematics, and phylogeography of Pleistocene horses in the New World: a molecular perspective". PLoS Biology 3 (8): e241. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0030241. PMID 15974804. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Orlando, L.; et al. (2008). "Ancient DNA Clarifies the Evolutionary History of American Late Pleistocene Equids". Journal of Molecular Evolution 66 (5): 533–538. doi:10.1007/s00239-008-9100-x. PMID 18398561. 
  3. C. Michael Hogan, Cueva del Milodon, Megalithic Portal, 13 April, 2008 [1]


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