Ancient DNA Reveals How the Ancestors of Modern Horses Migrated

Molecular biologists studied the DNA of people who migrated from North America to Eurasia and vice versa.

An international research team determined that the ancestors of modern domestic horses and Przewalski’s wild horses migrated from Eurasia (Russian Urals, Siberia, Chukotka, and Eastern China) to North America (Yukon, Alaska, U.S. Continental) from one continent to another. At least twice on a continent. It occurred in the late Pleistocene (2.5 million years ago, 11,700 years ago). The results of the analysis are published in the journal. The discovery and description of the horse genome were published in the journal Molecular Ecology.

The chief researcher of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Ural Federal University (Russia) said: “We found that the Bering Land Bridge or the area known as the Bering Banner affects the genetic diversity inside and outside the horse.” Dmitry Gimrano husband. “Due to the emergence of this part of the earth, gene flow between mammoths, bisons, and wolves may occur regularly. And if North American horses were not widely distributed in Eurasia from 950 to 450 years ago, And 200-50 thousand years ago, there was a long-distance two-way transmission of genes.”.

In other words, horses not only migrate between continents in one direction, but vice versa. The first wave of immigration was mainly from North America to Eurasia. The second migration was mainly the migration from Eurasia to North America.

The main researchers concluded that most animals have used the Bering Land Bridge only once, while horses have used it several times. This fact may significantly affect the genetic makeup of horse populations and make them a very interesting research object for paleogeneticists.

To determine where horses live, molecular biologists studied the DNA of horses from two continents. Among 262 bone and tooth samples, they selected 78 samples with sufficient DNA. Researchers conducted genetic analysis and radiocarbon dating in laboratories in Denmark and the United States. In addition, they analyzed the research data of 112 samples.

“Data shows that these horses and bison, brown bears and lions returned to North America via the Bering flag from Eurasia at about the same time,” said Dmitry Gimranov. “That is to say, in the last “days” of the late Pleistocene, when the territory was not covered by water, it was like a bridge for many animal groups to move. With the beginning and renewal of global warming (the beginning of the Holocene or 11,700 years ago) With the last disappearance of Bering Island at the end of the world, the biogeographic importance of this ecological corridor has fundamentally changed the history of terrestrial animal species. Continent.”

Although the North American horse population eventually became extinct in the early Holocene, due to domestication, horses were common on both continents and are now far beyond their historical range.


The Bering Land Bridge is located on the site of the modern Bering Strait, separating the most northwestern part of the United States from the most northeastern part of Asia. The natural geographic area of Bering extends from the Lena River in Russia to the Mackenzie River in Canada. It consists of land and sea parts. The land area of Bering changed during the Pleistocene (from 2.6 million years ago to 11,700 years ago) with the size of continental ice and its impact on sea level.

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