Monday, August 14, 2017

Are Wild Horses Native to the Americas – Part II

Continuing from the previous post regarding the horse in the Americas and how it was claimed to have been extinct during Jaredite and Nephite times. 
    According to Richard Gillespie in "Updating Martin's global extinction model" (Quaternary Science Reviews, Vol 27 (27-28) 2008, pp2522-2529), there are some inconsistencies between the current available data and the prehistoric overkill hypothesis. For instance, there are ambiguities around the timing of sudden extinctions of Australian megafauna. Biologists note that comparable extinctions have not occurred in Africa and Southeast Asia, where the fauna evolved with hominids" (humans and their ancestors).
Megafaunal animals claimed to have lived in the Americas

In fact, it is believed that post-glacial megafaunal (large or giant animals) "extinctions in Africa have been spaced over a longer interval."
    Yet, despite all the discussion of some catastrophic event that wiped out every single horse on the face of the North and South American continents, the idea of such is illogical and hard to envision under any circumstances but one. And that reasonable possibility is the single one that science will not even consider—Noah’s Flood.
That means horses, and all animals and living things would have been destroyed and have to be reintroduced by man—Noah’s descendants. Enter the Jaredites, and the importance of their colonization of the New World, or Western Hemisphere soon after the Flood and directly after the separation of lands that took place in Peleg’s lifetime.
    When the Lord told the Brother of Jared that He would meet him, his brother, and their friends in a valley to the north (Ether 1:42) named after Nimrod (Ether 2:1)probably the best known individual of his dayhe told him, “Go to and gather together thy flocks, both male and female, of every kind; and also of the seed of the earth of every kind; and thy families; and also Jared thy brother and his family; and also thy friends and their families, and the friends of Jared and their families” (Ether 1:41), they also caught fowls of the air and fish of the waters (Ether 2:2); and honey bees (Ether 2:3).
    When the Jaredites reached the New World, or the promised land, they had within their eight barges, numerous animals, herd animals of every kind, which, according to sociobiologists (social behavior resulting from evolution) and behavioral ecologists (animal behavior resulting from the proximate causes of ontogeny, survival value, and phylogeny of behavior), include grazing animals, such as goats, sheep, cattle, elephants, camels, horses, asses, bison, boars, caribou, deer, moose, oxen, pigs, antelope, etc.
    Of course, with probable space requirements in the barges they would not have had to have many large adult mammals, if any, for they could have brought young animals that could finish their growth after landing, thereby saving space in the barges for people and supplies.
    The point is, with these herds and flocks, they repopulated the animals in the Western Hemisphere. The animals that were wiped out by the Flood began to repopulate from those the Jaredites brought—no doubt others, not included by the Jaredites came with the Europeans when they arrived.
“And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms”
(Ether 9:19)

Assuming the Jaredites brought horsessince it is listed in the Ether record we can accept that they didthe question paleontologists propose is "were the wild horse of the Americas truly wild?" This was the concluding question in the previous post.
The horses we call wild, from the mustangs to the Exmoor ponies to the "wild" horses of the Camargue marshes are technically all feral horses, descendants of domesticated horses that have been living on their own and reproducing for decades, or even centuries, without significant influence from people. The one single sub-species of horse that is still entirely wild, having never been domesticated by humans is the endangered Przewalski's horse, which is native to the steppes of Mongolia

Of this, Dr. Jay F. Kirkpatrick, director of the Science and Conservation Center, Billings, Montana,   and Dr. Patricia M. Fazio, environmental history from Texas A&M, in "Wild Horses as Native North American Wildlife" (The Science and Conservation Center, Montana, Billings, Revised January 2010) ask: "Are they truly “wild,” as an indigenous species in Americas, or are they “feral weeds” – that is, barnyard escapees, far removed genetically from their prehistoric ancestors?" The question at hand is, therefore, whether or not modern horses, Equus caballus, should be considered native wildlife. At first glance, it may not seem like it, but the question is legitimate, and the answer important.
"Wild" American Horses are actually ferel horses, descended from domestic breeds

As Kirkpatrick and Fazio continue: "In North America, the wild horse is often labeled as non‐native, or even an exotic species, by most federal or state agencies dealing with wildlife management, such as the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. The legal mandate for many of these agencies is to protect native wildlife and prevent non‐native species from causing harmful effects on the general ecology of the land. Thus, management is often directed at total eradication, or at least minimal numbers. If the idea that wild horses were, indeed, native wildlife, a great many current management approaches might be compromised. Thus, the rationale for examining this proposition, that the horse is a native or non‐native species, is significant."
    Obviously, then, these recent findings have an unexpected implication. It is firmly believed that domesticated horses were introduced into North America at the time of the Spanish conquest--obviously, some of these horses would have escaped captivity, either during battles where the riders were killed or at other times. It is also believed that these escaped horses subsequently spread throughout the American Great Plains. As Kirkpatrick and Fazio claim (Live Science, 2008), "Based on today's terminology, such escaped wild horses that survive are designated "feral" and regarded as intrusive, exotic animals, unlike the native horses that died out at the end of the Pleistocene." This was a time, according to Bjorn Carey (Live Science, 2006) about 12,000 years ago that a global cooling event caused the extinction of many large mammals in North America. However, as Kirkpatrick and Fazio add, "whether or not horses were domesticated before they were reintroduced matters little from a biological viewpoint. Indeed, domestication altered them little, as we can see by how quickly horses revert to ancient behavioral patterns in the wild."
    The genus Equus it is said, which includes modern horses, zebras, and asses, is the only surviving genus in a once diverse family of horses that included 27 genera. When the genus Equus originated is not known, though experts claim that evidence of their dispersal from North America to Eurasia is documented.
Left: E. Lambei; Right: E. Caballus. Both are the same animal as has been shown by recent DNA testing and analysis

The relatively new field of molecular biology, using mitochondrial‐DNA analysis, which is mainly used for identification of protected species and genetic diversity of wildlife, has recently revealed,  that the origin and etymology of caballine (caballinus), or our modern horse, E. caballus, is genetically equivalent to E. lambei, a horse, according to fossil records, that represented the most recent Equus species in North America prior to extinction, as Kirkpatrick and Fazio have pointed out and that not .only is E. caballus genetically equivalent to E. lambei, also known as the Yukon horse, but, according to Ann Forstén of the Zoological Museum in Helsinki, Finland (Mitochondrial-DNA time-tablke and the evolution of Equus, Finnish Zoological Publishing board, 1990/1992) there is no evidence existing for the origin of E. caballus anywhere except in North America.
    It should also be noted that a mitochondrial-DNA-based timetable for the branching of the extant species of the genus Equus as compared with the record of dated fossils of that genus was conducted in Forstén's research and covered in her article her quoted only in part.
(See the next post, “Are Wild Horses Native to the Americas – Part III,” for more information about the horse in the Americas when it was claimed to have been extinct)


  1. Actually, the basis of the book of Mormon was a fictional novel written by a protestant minister Rev. Spaulding who passed away while his manuscript titled "The Manuscript Found" was still at the printer's office in Pittsburgh awaiting publication. This manuscript was obtained by one Sidney Rigdon, who probably in collaboration with Joseph Smith edited the work into what Smith published as "The Book of Mormon" with the story about the angel and the golden plates and "reformed egyptian". The content of it is not historical, and archaeological evidence does not support the idea that it describes real events in ancient North America. Paleontological evidence definitely does not even remotely suggest that what is suggested in this article could be true. Unfortunately, Joseph Smith was not a good or honest man. We are endowed by God with gifts of reason and intelligence, and if we use those gifts we are able to understand that Mormonism is not true. If you are a Mormon, it would be good to study historic Christianity which exists in continuity from the time of Jesus and the Apostles with wonderful Christian art, literature, music and culture attesting to that, and the still extant Church with its leadership comprised to this day of successors to Jesus' Apostles, handing on the doctrine they received from Jesus and the original Apostles. Vikings were apparently the first Christians to set foot in North America. Later, Spaniards. Later, English protestants who adhered to a differently-believing offshoot of the Christian Church and in time spawned an ever greater diversity of beliefs that all insisted that they were Christian. Mormonism arose in this confusing American milieu of religious pluralism and frontier sense of possibilities, together with quasi religious movement of freemasonry, and augmented by a militia and a strict denial of freedom of the press.

  2. Elizabeth: You, of course, are entitled to your opinion. However, your comments are so far from truth it is sad that a person could be so wrong and have no idea that they are. History is not on your side. As for a knowledge of Christianity that is a field I spent over 20 years in, taught, and wrote about in my earlier life. Again, based on what you have written above, you have much to learn. Good luck with that.