Ancient Diets, Ecology, and Extinction of 5-Million-Year-Old Horses from Florida

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Science  05 Feb 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5403, pp. 824-827
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5403.824

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Six sympatric species of 5-million-year-old (late Hemphillian) horses from Florida existed during a time of major global change and extinction in terrestrial ecosystems. Traditionally, these horses were interpreted to have fed on abrasive grasses because of their high-crowned teeth. However, carbon isotopic and tooth microwear data indicate that these horses were not all C4 grazers but also included mixed feeders and C3 browsers. The late Hemphillian Florida sister species of the modern genus Equuswas principally a browser, unlike the grazing diet of modern equids. Late Hemphillian horse extinctions in Florida involved two grazing and one browsing species.

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