The First Horses
17 – 11 Million Years Ago
Merychippus evolved in North America and adapted to the hard grasses of the plains region. This was the beginning of the grazing horse of today. Merychippus had now increased in size to about 35 inches. These larger horses of the plains lived in herds. In order to chew the rough, hard grass, Merychippus developed complicated grinding teeth quite similar to present-day horses. Its lateral toes continued to diminish and no longer reached the ground. The main toe thickened and hardened for swift travel on the dry ground.