A spectacular new fossil of a tiny ancient horse is shedding new
light on the evolution of equines.
A developing foal inside the pregnant mare has been preserved in
The fossil was found at the Messel open-pit mine in Germany,
where more than seventy specimens of ancient horses have now been
Dr Stephan Schaal, of the Senckenberg Research Institute,
Germany, said: "The find of the adult horse includes
the best preserved foetus we have ever discovered in Messel.
"Compared with other Messel horses, it has impressive
preservation of the complete jaws with its teeth."
The forest dwelling horses come from a time, 49 million years
ago, when tropical forests stretched right to the poles.
The largest mammals were about the size of a pig, and giant
stalking birds, Gastornis, took the role of top predators.