Fossil Beast Helps Fill The Backstory of Horses, Tapirs, and Rhinos
There used to be rhinos in North America. In fact, they originated on the continent. The earliest ones didn’t look like the large, thick-skinned beasts we know today. No, if you were to wander through the humid forests of Wyoming or Utah around 50 million years ago, the closest thing to a rhino that you’d see would be a slender, pony-sized mammal that paleontologists know as Hyrachyus. And speaking of ponies, some of the earliest horses wandered the same forests – Eohippus and other horses that stood on several hoofed toes and were the size of a small dog – as well as the first tapirs.
Rhinos, horses, and tapirs are all perissodactyls. Roughly speaking, that means that they’re all hoofed