Wild horses no longer exist, according to new study
Friday, February 23, 2018, 3:24 PM - Sorry, Mick: It looks like you won't get to ride wild horses some day, because they no longer exist.
In a new study out of the University of Kansas, researchers dispel widespread assumptions about the origin of domesticated horses and find there are no wild species left.
The study, which spans 5,500 years, reveals that modern horses originally come from northern Kazakhstan and were domesticated by the Botai people. For years, it was widely believed that Przewalski's horses, which are native to the Eurasian steppes, were the only wild horse species left. But DNA evidence has revealed those horses are actually descendants of the Botai horses.
"This was a big surprise," study co-author Sandra Olsen, says in a statement circulated by the University of Kansas.
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Przewalski's horses not truly 'wild'
"This means there are no living wild horses on Earth -- that's the sad part," Olsen says. "There are a lot of equine biologists who have been studying Przewalskis, and this will be a big shock to them. They thought they were studying the last wild horses. It's not a real loss of biodiversity -- but in our minds, it is. We thought there was one last wild species, and we're only just now aware that all wild horses went extinct."
It's believed early Przewalski's horses escaped from domestic Botai herds. By 1969, the species had been declared extinct in the wild. Today, due to conservation efforts, there are now 2,000 Przewalski's horses roaming the Eurasian Steppes.
The full study was published Thursday in the journal Science.