Fun Hypohippus Facts For Kids

Sharon Judith
Oct 20, 2022 By Sharon Judith
Originally Published on Oct 01, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
This animal was not a dinosaur and fell more under the category of horses. Continue reading to discover more interesting Hypohipus fun facts that you're sure to love!
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.8 Min

'Hypohippus', whose name means 'low horse', lived about 17-11 million years ago in North America, specifically Nebraska, Colorado, and Montana as their fossils have been located there. This creature was a three-toed primitive horse that lived in forest areas during the Middle Miocene period.

The name was given to this horse-like animal based on the profile and structure of the teeth in 1858 by Joseph Leidy. About 50 years after, a skeleton fossil belonging to this genus was then described.

Sharing a deep resemblance with modern-day horses, Hypohippus of North America was an animal with a long face and neck but short, stubby legs with three toes.

This made them speedy yet elegant sprinters. The toes of this horse came in handy as it enabled them to bear all their weight on them.

They also had a short muzzle. The teeth of these Equidae species, from the evidence from fossils, have shown they were specialized and evolved making it say to cut into plant matter and tough leaves.

The Hypohippus animal size was quite similar to that of a pony in the modern world.

They had great length but lacked the height seen in a horse today! Throughout history, it was believed by many they these three-toed animals of the Equidae family became extinct as they were constantly hunted by bear dogs like Amphicyon.

Known to have evolved out of the Miohippus, it was more of a browser. The species Hypohippus, Megahippus, Sinohippus, and Achniterium were also suspected to have belonged to a group called Anchiteria that thrived millions of years ago but went extinct as quickly!

If you'd like to discover some more interesting facts on similar animals, check out our Palaeosaurus awesome facts or Ornithosuchus interesting facts for kids that are sure to keep you hooked!

Hypohippus Interesting Facts

Was the Hypohippus a dinosaur?

The Hypohippus, which lived about 17-11 million years ago in the Middle Miocene of North America, was not a dinosaur. It was more of a horse, although they lacked the height and had only three toes.

How do you pronounce 'Hypohippus'?

'Hypohippus' or 'low horse' is pronounced as 'Hy-poe-hip-pus'. These fossils have been excavated from Nebraska, Colorado, and Montana in the United States of America.

What type of prehistoric animal was a Hypohippus?

The extinct Hypohippus was a type of mammal that belonged to the Animalia kingdom and came from the Equidae family. They were named by the well-known paleontologist Joseph Leidy in 1858 based on the structure of their teeth.

In which geological period did the Hypohippus live?

The Hypohippus, now extinct, roamed the earth about 17-11 million years ago in the Middle Miocene period of North America. Resembling the modern horse, the fossils of this species have been located in Nebraska, Colorado, and Montana.

They were three-toed and had a long body, looking very similar to a pony in appearance and size. After describing the skeleton of this genus, it was discovered that they had long faces and necks but short legs.

When did the Hypohippus become extinct?

This 'low horse' was believed to have gone extinct about 40-30 million years ago. The reason for the extinction was largely believed to be due to constant preying by bear dogs like the Amphicyon. However, other reasons such as natural disasters like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and meteor hits were also believed to wipe out their existence from the world.

Where did a Hypohippus live?

These horse species of the Equidae family were known to have lived in woodlands or forest areas of North America.

What was a Hypohippus' habitat?

Named as 'Hypohippus' by paleontologist Joseph Leidy, this animal was a forest browsing animal. It walked on its feet that had three toes and most of the weight was borne by the feet. Being herbivores they would have probably also shared their habitat with other herbivorous animals of their time like the woolly mammoths and sloths.

Who did a Hypohippus live with?

These species, like modern horses, relied on companionship and were social human beings. Hence, they would have probably lived in small herds, grazing together or moving from one habitat to the other.

How long did a Hypohippus live?

These pony-like animals probably lived for about 25-30 years just like all horses did!

How did they reproduce?

The reproduction style of these species would have also been very similar to horses. Once the female Hypohippus was impregnated, they gave live birth to a single foal.

The female carries her young for approximately 11 months and once the baby is born, it has the ability to run, walk, and hop alongside its mother. They are also full of energy, lively, and very cute!

Hypohippus Fun Facts

What did a Hypohippus look like?

The Hypohippus was named by Joseph Leidy in 1858 which 'low horse' due to the lack of height that is seen in modern horses and about 50 years later, the skeleton of this genus was studied in great detail.

It was found that this extinct genus of horse species that lived about 17-11 million years ago in the Middle Miocene period had a long face and neck but short legs.

The neck was long enough but not like how it is in an okapi.

This 'low horse' species also had a short muzzle with a teeth profile indicating that they were able to chew tough plants, twigs, vegetation, and so on. They were mostly the size of a pony.

These three-toed horses were able to bear all their weight on their feet without any trouble!
We've been unable to source an image of Hypohippus and have used an image of Achaeohippus instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of Hypohippus, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at

How many bones did a Hypohippus have?

The exact number of bones the Hypohippus or 'low horse' had is currently not known due to the lack of sufficient data and evidence. Nonetheless, these horses of the Equidae family would have definitely had over 100 bones for sure!

How did they communicate?

These horses would have probably had two main forms of communication which were body displays and vocal displays. Their ears, specifically, would have played an important role in passing information from one to another. They would have done so by weighing, snorting, blowing, or making short, sharp gallops too!

How big was a Hypohippus?

These species of low horses have been a topic of debate for quite some time through history. They were mostly the size of a pony. They were about 78.7 in (2 m) in length and 43.3 in (1 m) in height! The height of these species was the same as that of a penguin!

How fast could a Hypohippus move?

It is not known how fast the Hypohippus could move but they would have definitely matched the speed of horses, maybe slightly less.

How much did a Hypohippus weigh?

This 'low horse' that was the size of a pony, weighed about 154.3-390.6 lb(70-177 kg).

What were the male and female names of the species?

There were no specific male or female names for these species. They were simply called Hypohippus or a low horse which is the meaning of their name.

What would you call a baby Hypohippus?

A baby Hypohippus was called a foal, just like all the babies of horses!

What did they eat?

These horses were herbivorous. Their diet largely consisted of plant matter and they would have also probably shared their dietary habits with other animals like sheep, cows, and deers.

How aggressive were they?

These animals were mostly harmless and did not portray any aggressive behavior. They were mostly by themselves or in small herds, grazing. Of course, again, they would have depicted a certain level of aggression if they were threatened. They would have also been easy target prey for predators.

Did you know...

From pictures and articles found all over the world, you'd be very surprised to know that this Hypohippus whose name means 'low horse', comes from the Equidae family, and had a skin pattern that was very much similar to what is seen in zebras today.

However, instead of the black and white pattern, these horse species had more of a brown on white pattern on their bodies.

How many teeth did Hypohippus have?

Since the Mesahippus and the Hypohippus come from the same Equidae family, they would have shared similar teeth structures. Hence, they would have had just six teeth!

How long ago did Hypohippus live?

The Hypohippus lived in the Middle Miocene period. The fossils of various parts of their skeleton have been located in different parts of North America.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly prehistoric animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other creatures from our Gracilisuchus facts, or Cretoxyrhina facts for kids.

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

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Written by Sharon Judith

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Psychology, Economics, and Sociology

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Sharon JudithBachelor of Arts specializing in Psychology, Economics, and Sociology

A humanities and Science student, Sharon holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with a specialization in Psychology, Economics, and Sociology from Mount Carmel College and is currently pursuing her Master's in Science from Bournemouth University. She is passionate about research, content writing, and development, and has a keen interest in international finance and economics. With her strong analytical skills and inquisitive mind, she is always striving to deepen her knowledge and understanding of these subjects.

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Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi

Postgraduate Diploma in Management

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Sakshi RaturiPostgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi has experience in marketing strategy, social media planning, and recruiting industry experts for capstone projects, she has displayed a commitment to enhancing their skills and knowledge. She has won multiple awards, including a Certificate of Appreciation for Creative Writing and a Certificate of Merit for Immaculate Turut, and is always seeking new opportunities to grow and develop.

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