Monday, February 20, 2012

One of the oldest and most complete horse fossils in existence

Protorohippus venticolum
One of the oldest and most complete horse fossils in existence discovered in Wyoming
Recently, an extremely rare horse fossil was discovered in the Green River Formation of Wyoming while fossil experts were looking for fish fossils.   This Protorohippus venticolum is considered by experts in the field to be one of the earliest species of horse, at the base of the evolutionary tree for this group of animals. This rare horse fossil is currently for sale for $2.25 million.
Protorohippus venticolum is one of the earliest species of horse that lived in the wooded areas of the Northern Hemisphere in areas including North America, Europe, and Asia. Scientists have been able to determine that the little horse stood 12" at the shoulder and had four hooved toes on its front feet and 3 hooved toes on its hind feet. The fossil has earned the nick name "Dawn" and was determined to be 52 million years old from the Eocene period.
What makes this fossil so extraordinary, and worth so much money, is the fact that it is the most complete fossil of Protorohippus venticolum ever found. Not only is "Dawn" the most complete Protorhippus ever found, estimated by its finder to be 95 to 97 percent complete. Notably, there is a missing piece of its tail that could possibly be hidden under the limestone fossil.  This fossil comes with a certificate of authenticity, and is verified by the experts. Lance Grande, Senior Vice President, Field Museum of Chicago expert vertebrate paleontologist, verified this fossil, which was expertly prepared by one of the foremost preparators in the United States.
This proto-horse fossil was discovered by a third generation fossil quarry master. It was discovered in the Green River Formation (which is adjacent to Fossil Butte National Monument), and is therefore a rare national treasure from this area of Wyoming. The fossil was discovered in and unearthed from the 4 inch Snail Layer, embedded in a 400 foot bluff. The fossil plate measures 30 inches by 28 inches and is four inches thick.
Thanks to fossils like this, paleontologists have been able to piece together the evolutionary history of the horse more closely than any other animal group. While modern horses did not arrive in North America until their introduction by Spaniards in the late 1400’s, ancient horse ancestors were present on the continent for millions of years before. Protorohippus venticolum is believed to be one of the first animals that can truly be considered a horse, and while now extinct, thrived in North America (as well as Asia and Europe) about 50 million years ago, during the Eocene era of our planet's history. Protorohippus venticolum is more colloquially known as Eohippus, or the Dawn Horse, in recognition of its ancient beginnings.
This little horse ‘Dawn’ has been widely studied, and the discovery of such a complete fossil adds a significant amount of information to the history of the horse, and to the fossil record in general. As we continue to learn more about the ancient times of our planet, more clarification will be reached about the evolutionary lineage of not only the horse, but all animal life on our planet.
Source: For more information about this rare fossil contact ‘touchstone gallery’  - a natural art gallery offering museum class fossils and minerals with locations in Sedona, Scottsdale, Sante Fe, and Taos. www.touchstonegalleries.com

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