Articles | Volume 24, issue 1
Foss. Rec., 24, 151–169, 2021
Foss. Rec., 24, 151–169, 2021

Research article 10 Jun 2021

Research article | 10 Jun 2021

Determining the gait of Miocene, Pliocene, and Pleistocene horses from fossilized trackways

Alan Vincelette

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Cited articles

Alberdi, M. T., Prado, J. L., and Ortiz-Jaureguizar, E.: Patterns of body size changes in fossil and living equini (Perissodacytla), Biol. J. Linn. Soc., 54, 349–370,, 1995. 
Alexander, R. M.: Estimates of speeds of dinosaurs, Nature, 261, 129–130,, 1976. 
Alf, R. M.: Mammal trackways from the Barstow Formation, Bull. S. Calif. Acad. Sci., 65, 258–264, 1966. 
Armour-Chelu, M. and Bernor, R. L.: Equidae, in: Paleontology and Geology of Laetoli: Human Evolution in Context: Volume 2: Fossil Hominins and the Associated Fauna, edited by: Harrison, T., Springer, 295–326, Dordrecht, the Netherlands, 2011. 
Short summary
This study compares footprints made by modern horses with two fossil trackways. One shows a Pleistocene horse in a gallop of 9 m/s, perhaps fleeing predators or migrating. More intriguing is the trackway of a Miocene horse with diagonal couplets in a gait of 2 m/s. This best matches the artificial gait of the rack/tölt only found in breeds such as the Saddlebred, Icelandic, and Paso, providing more evidence that early horses possessed a greater variety of useful gaits than most modern horses.