Wild horses declared extinct in new study

The Przewalski horse was thought to have been the last wild horse breed.
The Przewalski horse was thought to have been the last wild horse breed. Photo credit: Getty

Horse lovers may be surprised by new research that claims no truly wild horse breeds still exist.

The study, a joint effort by researchers at the University of Kansas and National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France, also says the last living wild horse population is a feral descendant of the earliest-known domesticated horses.

The study's current models suggest that all modern domesticated horses now descend from those first tamed in Botai, in the Aqmola Province of Kazakhstan.

The Przewalski's horse, a species with a population of around 2000 in Mongolia, had long been thought to be the last wild horse breed, meaning they have no history of domestication. That's unlike other free-roaming or feral horses like the mustangs in the United States or the Australian brumby.

However, researchers now say after examining the genomes of ancient and modern horses that the endangered breed, that was saved from extinction in the 20th century, are descendants from horses domesticated in northern Kazakhstan some 5500 years ago by people in what is called the Botai culture.

The research showed that the Botai culture offers the earliest-known evidence for horse domestication, but the horses they used were not the ancestors of modern domesticated breeds.

Newshub / Reuters