The first animal classified as a “horse” by scientists was Hyracotherium, a species formerly known as Eohippus. This ancestral horse first evolved in North America about 50 million years ago, and looked a bit like a small deer. The average Hyracotherium probably only weighed about 50 pounds, but gave rise through evolution to larger horse species, and eventually to the modern horses of today. Many scientists believe that larger horses evolved to take advantage of the grassy North American plains which, due to gradual climate changes that took place millions of years ago, were slowly beginning to replace dense forest in many parts of the continent.
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