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A Native Keystone Species


Dr Ross MacPhee Presentation

At the Save Our Wild Horses 2022 DC Conference

The True Story of the Horse

"The horse (Equus caballus) is the only valid horse species that evolved in North America living on the planet today. It is the surviving member of Pleistocene and comes from the lineage of horses that arose 5 million years ago."

- Ross MacPhee Ph.D., Senior Curator at the American Museum of Natural History

Old Science 

  • It was thought that horses disappeared from North America eons ago.

  • That they were 'introduced' by the Spanish Conquistadors as a new species.

  • However, we now know this to be false.

Breakthrough Science

  • Rewilding America Now funds scientific research that demonstrates the native status of horses in America.

  • DNA extracted from soil samples reveals that mammoths and Yukon wild horses survived thousands of years longer than previously believed.

Looking Forward

  • Rewilding America Now is committed to supporting ongoing research at McMaster University.

  • More DNA findings are on their way, which means more protections for native wild horses and more rewilding initiatives.

Rewilding America Now
funds new DNA discovery

Rewilding America Now has funded two groundbreaking environmental (e) DNA research papers from McMaster University. More field research is underway as Rewilding America Now helps to break down barriers in science and push the boundaries of knowledge.

“It is important to demonstrate that it is crucial to reconnect with our past to solve the complex challenges we face today.”

- Dr Tyler Murchie, Postdoctoral Fellow, McMaster University

Cana fund new DNA research background.jpg
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Murchie et al. (2021) Collapse of the mammoth-steppe in central Yukon as revealed by ancient environmental DNA, Nature Communications

e-DNA collected from soil shows that wild horses have roamed in North America since at least 6,000 years ago. Thus, native people and horses coexisted for thousands of years on this continent. 


Murchie et al. (2022) Pleistocene mitogenomes reconstructed from the environmental DNA of permafrost sediments, Current Biology

The Bering Strait land bridge allowed horses and other Pleistocene megafauna to migrate to and from continents. Horses that originated in North America were thus able to populate Eurasia.

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