Sunday, August 13, 2017

Are Wild Horses Native to the Americas – Part I

It is believed that the last prehistoric North American horses died out between 13,000 and 11,000 years ago, at the end of what is called the Pleistocene (Ice Age). It is also assumed that by then the animal Equus (horse) had spread to Asia, Europe, and Africa. Of course, no one knows, or even has a workable idea as to why horses would have died out in North America.   
One of the questions regarding this disappearance of the horse in the Americas is “Did humans have a hand in their demise, or did climatic changes and altering vegetation trigger it?” If not, what did?
    Naturally, climate change, which has reached a new untenable and certainly unverifiable high in modern thinking, is one of the factors blamed for such changes or eradications of large mammals in the past.But another question also arises in this scenario.
    “How did the Equus get from North America to Asia and Europe before it met its untimely doom in the Americas?”
    Enter the infamous and so-called Siberian Land Bridge. While it is claimed that man came across that Land Bridge, which the anthropologist claims is a fact, but in geology has not been so proven, for there is no solid indication that a land bridge ever existed. But that does not stop the scientist from claiming that while man came from east to west across it, that the horse went from west to east across it.
The Ice Age Cordilleron sheet covered all of the western area of Canada, and the Laurentide Ice Sheet covered the rest, hardly allowing for any movement through them from east to west or west to east

A totally interesting and certainly unverifiable opinion when one considers, according to Stephen C. Lougheed and Natalie Morrill, of the Department of Biology, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario Canada, that during the Ice Age at this time, it was solid ice throughout Alaska and Canada, and the northern part of the U.S. (“Quaternary History of Eastern Ontario: Impacts on Physical Landscape and Biota,” Reviewed by Paul Handford (Associate Professor, Ecology & Evolution Group, Biology Department, University of Western Ontario, and Professor Scott Lamoureux, Ph.D (Queen’s University, Geography and Planning, involved in research in the High Arctic,  climatology, paleoclimatology, geomorphology and sedimentology)
    According to Dale Guthrie, in Nature, the International weekly Journal of Science, “About 70% of North American large mammal species were lost at the end of the Pleistocene epoch,” and the causes of this extinction—the role of humans versus that of climate—“have been the focus of much controversy.” He further adds, “Horses have figured centrally in that debate, because equid species dominated North American late Pleistocene faunas in terms of abundance, geographical distribution, and species variety, yet none survived into the Holocene epoch” (“Rapid body size decline in Alaskan Pleistocene horses before extinction,” Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska).
    Yet, the $64-million question asked by Neil Clarkson, a Berigia Land Bridge advocate, is: “Why could the continent that gave rise to the horse in the first place no longer provide a suitable home?” But not just unsuitable, it was completely incapable, according to paleontologists. But even if an acceptable answer were to rise concerning this, one would have to ask why did the horse not simply migrate further south where it was already warm? What would draw the horse, one of the heartiest of large mammals in the wild, into the frozen tundra to weave its way haphazardly across a land bridge it could not possibly have known existed?
    One interesting, though highly speculative suggestion is that a cadre of comets exploded over North America about 12,900 years ago, as claimed by the University of Oregon researchers, causing the extinction of ice-age mammals and perhaps even the Clovis people in North America.
The hardy horse that once covered the entire landscape

It is interesting that after 25 million years of stable living, growing, expanding, improving and increasing, suddenly, without warning, or evidently without any suggestable reason, they simply disappeared. Yet, it is interesting that somehow, those who sought a home elsewhere, over the “land bridge” and in Asia and Europe, “were able to readily adapt to their new environment even though they could not survive in their own natural habitat” but the ones that stayed in North America could not adapt to whatever changes that had to have occurred, yet are not recorded in any type of modeling scenario. They evidently “faced a changing climate, altering vegetation, and the arrival of man.”
    According to the universityh of Colorado in Boulder, in a period known as the Clovis-age, man showed up in the area of present-day Colorado, arriving it is claimed over the so-called Beringia land bridge. “Biochemical testing of 13,000-year-old stone tools in Colorado show that some were used to butcher ice-age horses and camels that roamed North American until their extinction.” The cache of tools from the period were recently unearthed within the city limits of Boulder.
    All 83 artifacts were shipped to anthropology professor Robert Yohe, of the Laboratory of Archaeological Science at California State, Bakersfield, for the protein residue tests, who commented: “I was somewhat surprised to find mammal protein residues on these tools, in part because we initially suspected that the cache might be ritualistic rather than utilitarian.”
    There are so few Clovis-age tool caches that have been discovered that no one really knows very much about the culture. Anthropology professor Douglas Bamforth, who led the study at the University of Colorado, said the discovery of horse and camel protein on the tools was the clincher for him that the tools were of Clovis origin. “We haven’t had camels or horses around here since the late Pleistocene.”
    The artifacts that showed animal protein residues were each tested three times to ensure accuracy.
Stone tools claimed to be 13,000 years old

According to Bamforth, “The study is the first to identify protein residue from extinct camels on North American stone tools and only the second to identify horse protein residue on a Clovis-age tool.” As the University report pointed out, the collection of 83 stone implements has been named the Mahaffy Cache after the Boulder resident and landowner, Patrick Mahaffy, on whose property the items were found by a landscaping crew, headed by Brant Turney who dug up the items. The collection is one of only two Clovis caches—the other is from Washington state—that have been analyzed for protein residue from ice-age mammals.
    Another possible claim of change that resulted in the extinction of large animals was climate change—an “escape all” that is often cited for otherwise unexplainable events in science. In this case it is a little more elaborate. The extinction of the woolly mammoth, it is suggested (by whatever cause, perhaps by humans) changed the extensive grasslands to birch forests, and subsequent forest fires then changed the climate. As one scientist put it, “We now believe that immediately after the extinction of the mammoth that birch forests replaced the grasslands and that an era of significant fire began.”
(See the next post, “Are Wild Horses Native to the Americas – Part II,” for more information about the horse in the Americas when it was claimed to have been extinct)


  1. Interesting. Since we know that the dating system is wrong the end if the ice age would have been about a thousand years after Noah's flood or about 1500bc. Doesn't seem logical that the swift horse could be hunted to extinction but what other explanation is there?

  2. Perhaps the prehistoric horses were not roaming free at all, but were all domesticated. In which case they could have been easily slaughtered during a great famine, when people became desperate for food. The book of Ether mentions very severe famines happening during the time of the Jaredites. There were was also a great famine among the Nephites and Lamanites a few decades before Christ's birth. If they considered the Llama and Alpaca to be of more use than horses and elephants, they may have slaughtered the horses for food. Just a thought off the top of my head.

    There is also evidence to suggest that the 7 year famine at the time of Joseph in Egypt was a world wide famine, which could explain the disappearence of the prehistoric horse throughtout the rest of the world. Again just a thought off the top of my head.

  3. You are the geologist, but my understanding is that this occurred not only after, but directly in connection with the Flood.
    First of all, we need to keep in mind that whenever a large land mass overlaps or even extends well into polar regions of the earth, ice can do nothing else but grow on it—obviously, ice caps cannot grow on deep oceans even in polar regions because they are eroded too rapidly by convection of warmer water beneath them. Thus, when stabilized and insulated by land masses, they always grow under a terrestrial polar environment simply because condensation (ice and snow) greatly exceeds vaporization, melting and iceberg sluff-off.
    When these ice sheets (of the Wisconsin) were building up, the primordial continent (Pangaea) at high latitudes, both north and south, was subsiding regularly under every-increasing polar ice loads while at lower latitudes it was uplifting. The total load eventually exceeded the strength of the continent and suddenly ruptured it from pole to pole. Immediately after this catastrophic continental rupture and drift, the shorelines found themselves approximately in the positions corresponding to maximum unbalance and they began a readjustment at a maximum rate at first with ever-decreasing rates of adjustment thereafter, as the global isostatic anomaly lessened exponentially—a situation that can be observed in all radio-carbon-calibrated depth vs. time results for these readjustments. All of this global shoreline readjustment probably began only about 4200-4300 years ago (after the Flood in the days of Peleg), certainly not 10,000 years ago, let alone 100 million years ago, etc.
    Obviously, then, these caps ultimately grew so tremendous in size and weight that they eventually ruptured, driving continental fragments (our present-day continents) several thousand miles apart and, after finally melting, filled with their waters the great basin formed between the major continental blocks to give us our arctic and Atlantic basins. There were of course other waters and other factors involved, but this is merely meant to respond to your comment about the ice caps and the Flood period. In reality, I suspect these were basically contemporary factors that took a period of time (not geologic time) to complete.

    1. Good thoughts Del. This is one of the theories as to how the earth shifted during the ice ages. I like this one. I often wonder if the demise of the horse and other creatures was due to maybe Yellowstone blowing it's top. Just don't know. We do know the dating is screwed up and that has its own set of problems.

      I like MC's ideas about famine too. During the time of Abraham and later there was great world wide famine. That might be the cause too.

  4. MC: Along this line, keep in mind that the civil war between the Lamanites after the annihilation of the Nephites at Cumorah lasted for at least 36 years (385-421 A.D.) and since after that time “there was no end in sight” we can assume that this war lasted for a lengthy period after that. And since the Lamanites were not known to have ever subsisted on food made from the own hands (farming), it is likely they would have run out of food very quickly, even scavenging Nephite crops, etc., which would have been minimal in a short time, and no doubt every eatable thing was hunted and killed during these decades and if anything lived past then, no doubt it went further and further into the wild recesses where and not found, then or later. In addition, most ferel animals do not do well in the wild (some do) and extinction would be most likely.
    Just as thought.

  5. Great point Del. Obviously the Jaredites didn't eat all of their horses, since there was an abundance of them in the land when Nephi arrived. The horses were found in the land South not North, which had been reserved as hunting area for the Jaredites. This would lead one to conclude that horses were likely hunted as a food source during Jaredite times, in addition to their use as a beast of burden.

    It's also interesting that horses are not mentioned after the time that the Nephites had gathered their heards together in order to starve out the Gadianton robbers in 3 Nephi. The starving robbers would have very likely eaten any and all horses roaming around.

    Later during the famine which the prophet Nephi had prayed for, it's possible that the people ate the rest of the horses. Perhaps they left a few alive that then perished in cities that were burned, drowned, or otherwise destroyed during the destruction at the time of Christ's death.

    Then again they could have been hunted to extinction by the Lamanites during the civil war period as you suggested.

    Regardless, there are plenty of reasonable explanations for their disappearance besides sudden unverifiable climate change.

  6. I just had another thought. When Christ appeared to the Nephites, he quoted them quite a few scriptures from Isaiah. Isaiah is full of multiple layers, hidden meanings, and shadow fulfillments. Most of the prophesies contained in Isaiah are yet to have their final fulfillment, as most of them are ultimately referring to the very last days when the New Jerusalem will be established, the wicked are destroyed, and Christ comes again.

    Nephi, who quoted from Isaiah extensively, found many applications to his people, even though the literal fulfillment of Isaiah was to be thousands of years in the future.

    With that in mind is their a connection between the disappearance of horses in the Americas and the following verse Christ quoted to the Nephites?

    14 Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent; for it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Father, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots;

    15 And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strongholds;

    16 And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thy land, and thou shalt have no more soothsayers;

    17 Thy graven images I will also cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee, and thou shalt no more worship the works of thy hands;

    18 And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee; so will I destroy thy cities.

    19 And it shall come to pass that all lyings, and deceivings, and envyings, and strifes, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, shall be done away.

    20 For it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that at that day whosoever will not repent and come unto my Beloved Son, them will I cut off from among my people, O house of Israel;

    Could the destruction of the wicked Nephites followed by the establishment of a Zion society be a shadow fulfillment of the establishment of the New Jerusalem?

    I think so.

    Is it not quite possible that the Nephite horses and chariots were destroyed as part of that shadow fulfillment?

    I would think so.

  7. Interesting thoughts MC, Del, and Iterry. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Responding to your claim that the Bering Sea land bridge has not been proven geologically, I’ll have to differ with you.

    Why is that?

    In the early to mid ‘70’s, during a USGS exploration ship cruise in the Bering Sea, I was present when some of our vibracore core samples were found to exhibit 3-4 ‘peat’ layers. These ‘peat’ layers had all the appearance of being tundra. They were dated (RC) to ~11 K to 34 K years BP, w/two other dates in between (I actually sent the samples in for dating). Later I did a more thorough analyses of the peat layers and found them to contain the same micro fauna found in present day tundra.

    The obvious implication is that the ‘peats’ were laid down when the Bering Sea coast in the sampling area was exposed above the then sea level.

    One of our associates was Dr. David Hopkins who ‘wrote’ the book titled Beringia, published by Stanford press. It contained numerous papers by Dave and others on the evidence for an exposed land bridge.

    In the book and from personal communication w/Hopkins, he talks about an unusual phenomenon in Alaska during the ice ages; namely the existence of what they called a 'refugium'. The refugium sheltered a lot of Ice Age animals during the heavier glaciation in the rest of the country. This, along w/the existence of exposed tundra on the land bridge, strongly implies that the ice coverage for the area may have been more seasonal. Which of course would allow the area to be used as a land bridge.

    Perhaps warmer Pacific waters was the cause of the 'refugium' (Alaska current?)