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Hipparion tracks and horses' toes: the evolution of the equid single hoof

Vincelette, A, Renders, E, Scott, K, Falkingham, P and Janis, C (2023) Hipparion tracks and horses' toes: the evolution of the equid single hoof. Royal Society Open Science, 10 (6). ISSN 2054-5703

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The traditional story of the evolution of the horse (family Equidae) has been in large part about the evolution of their feet. How did modern horses come to have a single toe (digit III), with the hoof bearing a characteristic V-shaped keratinous frog on the sole, and what happened to the other digits? While it has long been known that the proximal portions of digits II and IV are retained as the splint bones, a recent hypothesis suggested that the distal portion of these digits have also been retained as part of the frog, drawing upon the famous Laetoli footprints of the tridactyl (three-toed) equid Hipparion as part of the evidence. We show here that, while there is good anatomical and embryological evidence for the proximal portions of all the accessory digits (i.e. I and V, as well as II and IV) being retained in the feet of modern horses, evidence is lacking for the retention of any distal portions of these digits. There is also good ichnological evidence that many tridactyl equids possessed a frog, and that the frog has been part of the equid foot for much of equid evolutionary history.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: The Royal Society
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2023 10:04
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2023 10:15
DOI or ID number: 10.1098/rsos.230358
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/20006
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