Wilfrid Richmond.

The Americana: a universal reference library, comprising the arts ..., Volume 10 online

. (page 184 of 185)
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of those marked peculiarities of teeth and feet
which distinguish the modern horse from an an-
cestor which so little suggests a horse that,
when its remains were first found 40 years ago,
the animal was named by the great palaeontol-
ogist Richard Owen, the Hyracotherium or
•Coney-like Beast* Its relation to the horse
was not at that time suspected by Prof. Owen,
and was recognized by scientific men only when
several of the intermediate stages between it
and its modern descendant had been discovered.
On the other hand, this first ancestor of the
horse line is very difficult to distinguish from
the contemporary ancestors of tapirs and rhinoc-
eroses, and indicates how all the modern quad-
rupeds have diverged from a single type, each
becoming adapted to the needs of its especial
mode of life.

The earliest known ancestors of the horse
were small animals not larger than the domestic
cat, with four complete toes on each forefoot
and three on each hmdfoot There is reason
to believe that the still more ancient ancestors
of this and all other mammals had five toes on
each foot In the forefoot of die earliest known
stage wc find a splint-bone or small, slender
rudiment representing the missing first digit or
thumb, which no longer appears on the surface
of the foot, while in the hindfoot there is a
similar rudiment representing the outer or fifth
digit, but no trace is left of the innermost or
first digit. The proportions of the skull, the
short neck and arched back and the limbs of
moderate length, were very little horse-like; re-
calling, on the contrary, some modern carnivo-
rous animals, especially the civets (Viverritkt).
The teeth were short-crowned and covered with
low rounded knobs of enamel, suggesting those
of monkeys and of pigs or other omnivorous
animals, but not at all like the long-crowned
complicated grinders of the horse.

Commencing with the Hyracotherium, 12
stages have been recognized from as many
successive formations, showing the gradual evo-
lution of the race into its modern form, and
each stage is characteristic of its particular
geological horizon. Some of the stages have
been found in several parts of the world, but
by far the most complete and best known series
comes from the Tertiary Bad Lands of the West-
ern States. Besides the main line of descent
which led into the modern horses, asses and
zebras, there were several collateral branches
which have left no descendants. Of some stages
all parts of the skeleton have been found, of
others, only the jaws> or jaws and feet, are
known. We can mention only the more im-
portant stages.

1. The Hyracotherium is the roost primitive
stage known, but only the skull has been found,
so that it has not been determined exactly
what the feet were like. The teeth display six
rounded knobs or cusps on the upper molars and
four on the lower ones, and these are just be-

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Univ. Ubrary, UC Santa Cruz 2001

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ginning to show signs of frising into cross-
crests. The premolar teeth have* only one main
cusp, except ' the ' third and fourth premolars
(next the molars) in each jaw, which have two
and three; respectively The only specimens
which have been found were in the London Clay
or Lower Eocene of England and are preserved
in the British Museum.

2; The Edhippus is much better known. It
comes from the Lower Eocene of Wyoming and
New Mexico, and is very like the Hyracotherium
except that the molar teeth have the cusps more
clearly fusing into cross-crests, and the last
premolar* is beginning to look like one of the
true molars. The forefoot of this animal has
four complete toes and the splint of a fifth. The
hindfoot has three complete toes and the splint
of another.

3. Protorohippus. In these animals the
Splint of the first digit in the forefoot and the
splint of the, fifth digit of the hindfoot have
disappeared, but, there are still four complete
toes in the fore- and three in the hindfoot. The
crests on the molars are a little clearer and the
last premolar has become almost like the molars,
while the, next to the last premolar is beginning
to become so. A skeleton of Protorohippus
shows an animal of the size of a small dog, and
proportioned much like the breed known as the
whippet Tne Protorohippus was found by Dr.
J, L. Wortman in 1880 in the Wind River Bad
Lands of Wyoming, and was described by Prof.
Cope and others under the name of the *Fqur-
Toed Horse? ' 4

4. 0< Orohippus we have only parts of jaws
and teeth. A specimen of the forefoot is ex-
hibited in the Museum of Yale University.

. $«Epihippus {Upper Eocene).— Oi this stage
of the evolution of the horse only incomplete
specimens have been found. The molar teeth
have the once round cusps almost completely
converted into crescents and crests, while an-,
other tooth of the premolar series has become
like the molars. The toes are still four in the
forefoot and three in the hindfoot, but the cen-
tral toe in each foot is becoming much larger than
the side toes. (This species happens to be some-
what smaller than those found in the Middle
Eocene stage, but no doubt there were others of
larger size living at the same time). Palaothe*
Hum and Paloplotherium of the Upper Eocene of
Europe fbrm a side branch. They were very
abundant in Europe, but have not been found in
the New World. On each foot they had three
toes of nearly equal size, and the teeth show a
rather peculiar pattern. One of these animals was
thought by Prof. Huxley to be a direct ancestor
of the horse, but it now is considered to be
merely a collateral relative. Some species of
Palpotherium were of large size, equal to a
tapir. They were first described in the year
1804 by the celebrated Baron Cuvier from re-
mains found in the gypsum quarries of Mont-
martre, Paris.

6. Mesohippus. Oligocene (White River For-
mation). f Tn this stage there are three toes on
each foot, a splint representing tfie fifth digit
Of the forefoot of the Eocene ancestors. The
middle toe is now much larger than the side
toes, which bear" very little of the weight of the
animal. 'Three of the premolars have now be-
come, entirely like the molar teeth, tjie crests on

the crown- are completely formed, and the oub-
side crest in the upper molars has taken the
shape of two crescents. In the Middle Oli-
gocene is found Mesohippus bairdi about the
size of a coyote, while in the Upper Oligocene
occurs Mesohippus intermedins as large as a
sheep. Of both these animals all parts of the
skeleton are known.

7. Anchitherium (Lower Miocene). — This
stage has been found both in Europe and in
America. It is much like its predecessor, but is
larger and has the crests of the teeth somewhat
higher and more complete. It probably is not
in the direct line of descent of the horses, but
is on a side branch.

8. Parahippus and Hypohippus (Middle Mio-
cene). — In Parahippus the tooth-crests are much
higher, and the transverse ridges on the upper
molars are beginning to change shape so as to
become a second pair of crescents inside the
outer pair. Hypohippus is off the direct line of
descent; its teeth are like those of Anchitherium,
by which name it has been generally called, but
the animal was much larger, equaling a Shet-
land pony in size. A complete skeleton of the
Hypohippus was found near Pawnee Buttes,
Colorado, in 1901 by Barnum Brown, of the
Whitney expedition. In the forefoot of Hypo-
hippus small rudiments still remain represent-
ing the first and fifth digits, but there is no
splint of the fifth, as in Mesohippus. The second
and fourth digits still touch the ground, though
lightly. # The fret p| Parahippus were much like
those of fiypohtppus, 'but the side toes were

9 and 10. Protohippus and P Ho hip pus (Mid-
die and Upper Miocene). — In this stage the
crowns of the upper molars have become much
longer, the two pairs of crescents on the upper
molars are complete, with two half-separated
cusps within the inner pair. And the valleys
between the crests have become filled with
cement, so that with the wear of the teeth the
edges of hard enamel are backed inside by
dentine and outside by cement. In this way the
surface of the tooth has a series of enamel ridges
always projecting a little above the grinding
surface, because the softer material on each side
wears down into hollows, yet never breaking off,
because they are braced so thoroughly on each
side. This is a very efficient instrument for
grinding hard grasses. In Protohippus and
Pliohippus, especially in the former, the crowns
of the teeth are by no means as long as in the
modern horses; they must therefore wear' more
slowly or wear out at an earlier age. The feet
in these
the groi
than in 1
less^ as
tains til
fl wrist 8
horse tr
of the f

n. h _
ably also a si<Je branch of the genealogical
tree of the horse family, is much like Proto-
hippus, tput larger and with more complication
about the tooth pattern. It is common in the

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European Pliocene beds and has been found in
America also. The feet are still three-toed, the
side toes as large as those of the older Ptvto-

12. Equus (Pleistocene and Recent) j-^Jn
this stage* that of the modern horse, the side
toes have entirely disappeared and are repre-
sented by splints on the tore- and hindfoot No
trace remains on the forefoot of the Kttle nodules
which in Protohippus represented the first aad
fifth digits. The crowns of the teeth are much
longer than in the last stage, and of the two
halt-separated inner columns on the upper
molars, one has disappeared, the other has in-
creased in size and changed in form. The
skull has lengthened and the animal is much

13. Hippidium (Pleistocene. South Amef-
ico). — The feet are like those of Equus, ex-
cept that they were short and stout. The teeth
are like those of Pliohippus, from which it is
supposed to be descended. The skull is large
and long, with very long slender nasal bones.
Casts of the skull and limbs presented by the
Museo Nacional of Buenos Ayres, Argentine
Republic, are exhibited here.

The Change in Feet and Teeth. — Along with
the disappearance of the side toes in the evolu-
tion of the horse there is a considerable in-
crease in the proportionate length of the limbs,
and especially of the lower part of the leg and
foot The surfaces of the joints, at first more
or less of ttie ball-and-socket kind, which allows
free motion of the lintbs.in all; directions, be-
come keeled and grooved free a pulley-wheel,
permitting free motion forward and backward,
but limiting the motion in all other directions
and increasing considerably the strength of the
joint By this means the foot is made more
efficient for locomotion over a smooth regular
surface, but less so for traveling over very
rough ground, and it beconecs of little use foe-
striking or grasping or the varied purposes for
which the feet of poiydactyl animals are used*

The increased length in the lower leg and
foot increases the length of the stride without
decreasing ks quickness. The heavy muscle*
of the leg axe chiefly m the upper part, and to
increase the length of the lower part changes
the centre of gravity of the limb very little*
Consequently the leg swings to and fro from
the socket nearly as fast as before, since in an
ordinary step the action of the leg is like that of
a pendulum, and the speed of the swing is regu-
lated by the distance of the centre of gravity
from the point of attachment, as that of a pen-
dulum is by the height of the bob. To increase
the length of lower leg and foot therefore gives
the animal greater speed ; but it puts an increased
strain on the ankles and toe-joints, and these
must be strengthened correspondingly by con-
verting them from ball-and;Socket joints to
^ginglymoid* or pulley joints. Additional
strength, likewise at the expense of flexibility,
is obtained by the consolidation of the two bones
of the fore-arm (ulna and radius) and of the
leg (tibia and fibula) into one, the shaft of the
smaller bone practically disappearing, while its
ends become fused solidly to its larger neigh-

The increase in length of limb renders it
necessary for the grazing animal that the head
and neck should Increase in length in order to
enable the mouth to reach the ground. An ex-

ample of these changes is the modern bene, in
which we find the neck and bead muds elongated
when compared with the Httle Hyneotmermm,
and this elongation has taken place pmi passu
with the elongation of the legs. The redaction
and disappearance of the side toes and die con-
centration of the step on the single central toe
serve likewise to increase the speed over smooth
ground. The soft yielding surface of the poly-
dactyl foot is able to accommodate itself to a
rough irregular surface, but on smooth ground
the yielding step entails a certain loss ot speed.
A somewhat similar case is seen in the pneu-
matic tire of a bicycle; a *soft* tire accommo-
dates itself to a rough road and makes easier
ridjng, but a € hard* tire is faster, especially on a
smooth road. Similarly, the hard, firm step from
the single toe allows of more speed over a
smooth surface, although it compels the animal
to pick its way slowly and with care on rough,
irregular ground.

The change in the character of the teeth from
^rachydont* or short-crowned to € hypsodont*
or long-crowned enables the animal to subsist on
the hard, comparatively innutritious grasses of
the dry plains, which require much more thor-
ough mastication before tbey can be of any use
as food than do the softer green foods of the
swamps and forests.

All these changes in the evolution of the
horse are adaptations to a life in a region of
the level, smooth and open grassy plains which
are now hs natural habitat. At first the race
was better, fitted for a forest life, but it has
become more and more completely adapted to Kve
and compete with hs enemies or rivals under the
conditions which prevail in the high dry plains
of the interior of the great continents. The
great increase in sire, which has occurred in
almost all races of animals whose evolution we
can trace, is dependent on abundance of food. A
large animal f as may be shown on ordinary prin-
ciples of mechanics, requires more mod m pro-
portion to its size than does a small one* in
order to keep up a proper amount of activity.
On the other hand a large uiwnd is better able
than a small one to defend itself against its
enemies and rivals. Consequently, as long as
food is abundant, the larger animals have the
advantage over their smaller brethren, and by
the laws of natural selection the race tends to
become continually larger until a limit is reached
when sufficient food becomes difficult to obtain,
the animal being compelled to devote nearly all
its time ta getting enough to eat

Cause of the Evolution.-*^ The evolution of
the horse, adapting it to live on the dry plains,
probably went hand in hand with the evolution
of the plains, themselves. At the commencement
of the Age of Mammals the western part of the
North American continent was by no means as
high above sea-level as now. Great parts of it had
but recently emerged, and the Gulf of Mexico
stiU stretched far un {he valley, of the Mis-
sissippi. The climate at that time was probably
very moist, warm and tropical, as is shown by
the tropical forest trees, found fossil even as
far as Greenland. Such a climate, with the low
elevation of the land, would favor the growth
of dense forests all over the country, and to
such conditions of life the animals of the be-
ginning of the Mammalian ^period must have been
adapted. During the Tertiary the continent was
steadily rising above the ocean-level, and at the

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Courtesy of the Philadelphia Commercial Museui.i.


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Univ. Library, UCSante Cruz 2001

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•erne - £ane« other influences were at work to*
make- the climate continually colder and drier.
The coming on of a cold, dry climate restricted
and thinned the forest* and caused die appear*
Mice and extension of open, grassy plains. The
ancient forest inhabitants were forced either to
retreat and disappear with die forests, or to
adapt themselves to the new conditions of life.
The ancestors of the horse* following the latter
course, changed with the changing conditions,
and the race became finally as we see it to-day,
one of the most hisjily specialized of animals in
its adaptation to its peculiar environment At
the end of the Age of Mammals the continents
stood at a higher elevation than at present, and
there was- a broad land connection between Asia
and North America, as weft as those now exist-
ing- At this time the horse became cosmopoli-
tan, and inhabited the plains of ail the great,
continents, excepting Australia.

It is a question whether the direct ancestry of
the modem horse is to be searched for in west-
ern America or in the little known interior plains
of eastern Asia. It is also unknown why the
various species which inhabited North- and South
America and Europe during the early part of the
Age of Man should have become extinct,, while
those of Asia (horse and wild ass) and of
Africa {wild ass and zebra) still survive. Man,
since his appearance, has played an impo r ta n t,
part in the extermination of the larger animals ;
bat there is nothing to show how far he is re-
sponsible for die disappearance of the native
American species of horse.

Parallel Evolution in Other Races— It k in-
teresting to observe that while the evolution of
the .horse was progressing during the Tertiary
Period in North America another group of
hoofed animals, the Litopternm, now extinct, in
South America evolved a race adapted to the
broad plains of Argentina and Patagonia and
singularly like the horse in many ways. These
anhnals likewise lost the lateral toes one after
another, and concentrated the step on die cen-
tral toe; they also changed the form of the
joint-surfaces from ball-and-socket to pulley-
wheel joints; they also lengthened the limbs and '
the neck; and they also lengthened the teeth, and
complicated their pattern. Unlike the true
horse, they did not form cement on the topth,
so that it was by no means so emcient a grinder.
This group of animals native to South America.
became totally extinct, and were succeeded by
the horses, immigrants from North America,
which in their * ...-.- -^

appearance of

Many of th &.

the northern h<

ing the limbs, ft

feet, elongating

selves to the c lf

but none paraH 3

closely as did t
ica. But the c
lope, sheep am

gressed on mt ,

although their &

same condition

Horse, the
votiofv to thoa

From an artistic standpoint he leads the world
Pleasure and horses go together. A Frenchman
is instinctively a horseman. The French cavalry
is without an canal in the world. Since the
time of Napoleon the French government has
taken charge of the breeding of horses that are
best adapted for cavalry uses, and in accomplish-
ing this purpose the government has contributed
to the production of a very high-class coach
horse. The cavalry horse of France is usually
selected after the committee has finished their
work of picking out the very best stallions for
breeding purposes. Nearly every French coach
stallion that stands for public service in France
is owned by the French government. The
French have been willing to advertise and sell
their other breeds of horses, but they have been
loath to part with their coach horses. The in-
stinct of self -preservation causes the French
government and the French people to keep their
French coach horses at home in order to have
better horses than can be found hi any other

The breed of French coach horses has its
origin from the same source as the English
thoroughbred. On die one hand* the English
thoroughbred; surpasses in speed, while the
French coach horse is superior in aH of those
qualities that KO to make up a high-class car-
riage house. Like the Percherott* die FVench
eoacher is developed in its highest state of per-
fection in Normandy, but he comes from the
northern part, while the Perche ta in the south
of Normandy. t

The French cjbach shorse b about 16 hands
high; his* average weight is between i,aoo and
i*3<» pound* Hie color is as a rule bar, brewn
or chestnut His outline is most pleasing. He
is- a fast trotter, and under the conditions of
horse racing in France under saddle over a turf
track a distance of 4009 metres he holds the
record. The French method of developing their
trotters cultivates a very high, attractive style
of action. Not only is the French eoacher sotfk
in every French city hauling the most goflgeona
eQuipages over the boulevards surrounding Paris,
but he is to be seen in the best stables through-
out all of the capitals of Europe, especially in

The French eoacher supplies the English
royalty with their most useful and most attrac-
tive carriage horses.

. For more than 20 years French coach stal-
lions have been brought to America very spar*
ingly. Where they have been crossed with the
best road mares, trotting bred mares, the wstdl
has been most satisfactory. High-grade carriage*
horses that go into our best markets and sell far
the highest prices usually have a strain of French
coach blood flowing through_their veins.





Hone, the Percheron. The Percheron

horse is the production of the most patient
care and the application of the best scientific
principles of breeding. From the dawn of hi*-

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tOty the French' breeders of draft. horses have
been most successful, and the horses they have!
raised have been renowned the world oven

Inthei6th, 17th and 18th centuries the same
rules of selection in hreeding have been applied
that prevail to-day. The good horses- were per-
mitted to reproduce themselves and multiply.
The inferior and- unsound ones were never per*
mitted to breed. The result of this most careful,
selection, based on scientific principles* has given
the French the best draft horse that the world-
produces. /

, In a very small portion of Normandy called 1
the *tPerohe* the highest result has been at*
tained. JM&om this district the Percheron horse
has been sent to all parts of the world with such'
satisfactory results that the word Percheron to-
day means the ideal draft hdrse the world over.
From the very beginning up until the. present
time the object of the Percheron breeders has
been to produce the kind of horse that would
move the: greatest weight with the greatest
speed. . t

In making their selections for breeding pur-
poses the Frenchmen have not only r picked out'
stallions ajod mares that would make the best
horses, but comely appearance and pleasing out-
line have also in a measure been their guide,
and as a result the Percheron horse to-day is not
only the best draft horse m the world, but! he is
one of the most attractive. He is indeed a^nand*
some horse. The prevailing color of ihe Perche-
ron* horse is from mack* to white, including all
of the various gradations from black, dark gray,
dapple gray; gray and white. %

About 50 year* 1 ago the first Fereheron stal-
lions were imported from France, to America,
and those that became most famous came to
Ohio. One, called iLouts -Napoleon, owned in'
Unioir County, Ohio, and afterwards sold to go
to Normal, 111., both here in Ohio and in his
new home in Illinois> wafr admired by all. In
a few years, when his colts began to appear, the
reputation of the Percheron breed m America
was so well established that hundreds and even
thousands of them have been imported to Amer-
ica each year. ' '

f* During the past hundred years the govern-
ment in France has maintained a system ! of su-
pervision over the horse-breeding industry. The
government does not own 1 every Percheron stal-
lion, but every Percheron stallion must be ap-
proved ; by the governrneht inspectors* and must,
receive a certificate of approval before he can be .
used for breeding purposes in France. Many of .
the best stallions belong to : the government.
Many of those owned by private individuals.
receive a subsidy from the government if..

Online LibraryWilfrid RichmondThe Americana: a universal reference library, comprising the arts ..., Volume 10 → online text (page 184 of 185)