Fun Hipparion Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Jan 13, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Nov 22, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Gowri Rao
The fossil of the Hipparion resembles a modern horse.

The genus Hipparion is composed of animals belonging from the late Miocene era that bears close resemblance with a present-day horse species.

On deeper inspection of the fossil remains of the species housed in the American Museum of Natural History, it has been revealed that these animals actually displayed some notable features that set them apart from the common horses due to their feet.

Previously the genus Cremohipparion was considered to be a subgenus of hipparion. However, these equines inhabited the earth about 2-20 million years ago.

The first human acquaintance with these horses was back in the 19th century.

With its roots in the Greek language, in 1832, the name 'hipparion' was attributed. The origins of this exceptional three-toed horse have been traced to North America and as per analysis, it is recorded as one of the greatest animal migrations in the pages of history.

The hipparion population mushroomed throughout the Bering Bridge, extending further to Europe and Asia and then gradually reaching Africa. Did you know that the first equine possessed five toes?

Popular by the name Eohippus, the species existed about 50 million years ago.

Evolution from these five-toed horses made the horses larger with fewer toes suited for running at high speeds. If you want to take a glimpse of the preserved fossils of hipparion, North America is the place you should seek out.

Since the skeletal remains of several hipparion species were spread globally, cohesive research became almost impossible. So, the fossils were accumulated in the American Museum where scientists from all over the world engaged in collective research.

If you want to enlarge your knowledge about this unique pre-historical horse species then continue reading. You can also look into some more mind-bending facts about the toxodon and incisivosaurus.

Hipparion Interesting Facts

Was the Hipparion a dinosaur?

Also known as Hemihipparion or Stylohipparion, interestingly, the hipparion wasn't really a dinosaur. Fossil remains of the extinct animal reveal that it is identical to a modern horse.

How do you pronounce 'Hipparion'?

The pronunciation of this name derived from Greek simply goes 'Hip-pa-re-on'.

What type of prehistoric animal was a Hipparion?

It can be concluded that the hipparion was an exquisite horse-like animal that lived million years ago.

In which geological period did the Hipparion live?

The existence of all the species of Hipparion genus has been traced back between the late Miocene Period and Pleistocene Period. Species namely H.‭ ‬laromae, H.‭ ‬periafricanum, H.‭ ‬tehonense, and many others have been grouped under this genus.

When did the Hipparion become extinct?

Around two million years ago, the entire hipparion population in North America withered away into extinction.

Where did a Hipparion live?

The evolution of this early horse species commenced in what the modern world calls North America. Eventually, the numbers became widespread throughout Asia, Africa, and Europe.

What was a Hipparion's habitat?

The habitat range of the hipparion encompassed open grassy plains, prairies, and steppes. They normally avoided dwelling in forested areas.

Who did a Hipparion live with?

The social behavior of the species is unknown. So, it cannot be mentioned whether this extinct horse lived in pairs, grazed in groups, or preferred to remain aloof.

How long did a Hipparion live?

Since the average lifespan of this species is undeciphered, it's difficult to know for how long these early equines lived in the wilderness.

How did they reproduce?

According to research, the hipparion attained sexual maturity around two years of age. Detailed information about the species is not available but it can be assumed that its reproduction pattern was akin to those of horses.

Males and females engage in sexual breeding after hitting the puberty stage. Post-copulation, a female generally gestates for about 11 months and then gives birth to a foal. There are some exceptions where two young have also been observed.

The foals are usually capable of standing on their feet right after birth. However, it's not clear whether they were nurtured with parental care.

Hipparion Fun Facts

What did a Hipparion look like?

The hipparion horse evolution has perhaps resulted in what the world currently identifies as a horse. It exhibited a horse-like body structure and weight.

It possessed two vestigial toes, unlike the modern horses that only come with the hoof. However, only one hipparion hoof was functional as the other two perhaps didn't even reach the surface. Specimens dating from the late Miocene period showed that the teeth of the upper cheek were hypsodont and longer.

How many bones did a Hipparion have?

Innumerable specimens of the hipparion have been unearthed not only from North America but from several corners of the world. However, the number of bones comprising an entire hipparion skeleton hasn't been ascertained yet.

How did they communicate?

In general, equines use two methods of interaction - through body language and vocalizations. Vocalizations pertaining to the hipparion remain unidentified due to the lack of adequate data.

How big was a Hipparion?

The hipparion stood about 4.6 ft (140.2 cm) in height while its body length has been approximated at 6 ft (182.9 cm). The hipparion size is comparatively smaller when compared with the modern Shire horse that stands 5.7 ft (173 cm) tall with an average weight of 1,764-2,205 lb (800-1,000 kg).

How fast could a Hipparion move?

This ancient horse species was capable of covering distances by running at great speeds and it is estimated that the Hipparion speed range varied between 40-45 mph (64.4-72.4 kph). Upon contrasting hipparion footprints with that of a modern domestic horse, it was disclosed that these equines engaged in a running gait.

How much did a Hipparion weigh?

According to research, and like modern-day horses, the average of the Hipparion was somewhere around 1,000 lb (453.6 kg). It wasn't too bulky.

What were the male and female names of the species?

The female and male horses are called mare and stallion respectively.

What would you call a baby Hipparion?

Just like the baby of any horse, a baby Hipparion aged less than a year is known as a foal. After completing a year, it is regarded as a yearling. Did you know that a male foal is referred to as a colt while a female is termed filly?

What did they eat?

It is believed that the hipparion was herbivorous, its diet mostly included wild green grasses. Hence, the species possessed crowned teeth modified for grazing and munching on abundant grass.

How aggressive were they?

Although wild horses can potentially exhibit aggressiveness on some occasions, there's no concrete evidence to prove that these animals from the past were aggressive. In fact, they were perhaps easy prey.

Did you know...

Are you aware of the existence of the three-toed Hipparion primigenium? Fossilized forms of limb bones and teeth of this unique species were excavated from the Rhine valley.

Why was it called a Hipparion?

The term 'hipparion' has been derived from the Greek 'pony'. The name was attributed to the genus because it was composed of equines that had the size of a pony. What made them more unique was that these equines had different feet- three toes instead of one.

What predators did Hipparions have?

The species was engulfed by some negative factors that ultimately eradicated its existence. The two major factors that offered a severe blow to the horse population were cut-throat competition and predatory animals.

Severe competition from other grazing animals who fed on wild grasses often led to food scarcity. Additionally, the presence of predators like the cave hyenas only worsened the situation.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly prehistoric animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these hyracotherium facts or protoceras facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable andalusian horse coloring pages.

Second image by Ghedo

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

Read full bio >
Fact-checked by Gowri Rao

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Gowri Rao picture

Gowri RaoBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

With a bachelor's degree in Economics from Krea University, Gowri is a highly skilled data analyst and an expert in regression and causation modeling. Her interests in economic trends, finance, and investment research complement her professional expertise. In addition to her professional pursuits, Gowri enjoys swimming, running, and playing the drums, and she is also a talented tutor.

Read full bio >