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Horse and Camel fossils found in western Oklahoma date back millions of years, scientist says

Source: By Andrew Knittle as published at OKNews.com

Evidence that Wild Horses and Camels are Native to North America

This photo, provided by Cojeen Archaeological Services, shows a fossilized horse skull found at the Packsaddle Wildlife Management Area during excavation.

CHEYENNE — An oil company drilling in western Oklahoma has stumbled across a deposit of camel and horse fossils that date back roughly five million to 12 million years, scientists who’ve examined the remains say.

The fossils, which belong to long-extinct species of camel and horse, were found in July in the Packsaddle Wildlife Management Area.

An alert heavy-machine operator working for Apache Corp., the Houston-based oil company drilling in Packsaddle, discovered the long-hidden fossils after he’d cleared away roughly 20 feet of earth.

Some of the fossils are in good condition — relatively speaking — with the highlight being a well-preserved horse skull far tinier than its present-day descendant.

And there are plenty of fossils for scientists to work with in the isolated wildlife area. So far, a team of paleontologists and archaeologists has uncovered 13 separate pits containing deposits of bones of varying sizes.

Scientists say the remains are typical prey animals of the Late Miocene period, species that roamed what is now western Oklahoma in large numbers.

Nicholas Czaplewski, curator of vertebrate paleontology for Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, said it will take some time — possibly years — to sort through all of the fossils from the site.

At this point, it’s not clear what exactly scientists will gain from studying the fossils, but Czaplewski said the remains eventually will be compared with “known species” that have been found in the region.

“We also hope to learn more about the anatomy of the animals if their remains are complete enough,” he said.

“For example, if we find teeth or skulls associated with other parts of the skeleton like leg and foot bones, then we can build a more complete knowledge of the animals than when we only find isolated fragments, as is more usual.”

More study needed

The fossils were found in a section of the Packsaddle Wildlife Management Area that lies just north of the Canadian River in Ellis County. The terrain surrounding the dig site is covered in sage brush, windblown sand dunes and seemingly random, scrubby hillsides.

The Black Kettle National Grassland is just to the south of Packsaddle. This part of Oklahoma is vastly different from the heavily wooded, lush terrains of the southeastern parts of the state.

Millions of years ago, it would not have been unusual to see a camel walking through what is now Oklahoma.

In fact, scientists working at the site said that camels — now associated with the vast deserts of what is now the Middle East — may have originated in North America.

But as to why so many sets of fossils were found clustered together at the Packsaddle site, theories abound among the scientists.

Kyle Davies, a paleontologist working at the site, said he believed it was possible a large flooding event may have trapped many of the animals at the same time. He said such an event could explain why the fossils — many of them articulated — are in such good condition.

During an interview at the dig site Aug. 18, Czaplewski was hesitant to offer an opinion about the relatively large number of fossils that had been uncovered so far.

“As far as why they are clustered … it will take time to study what contextual evidence is preserved with the fossils,” he said.

“It is possible that they died in the same area but separately from one another over long periods of time, because it had been a waterhole where they came to drink over many generations.”

After the discovery of the 13 sets of fossils, a representative from Apache Corp. indicated that the company would clear more earth away to see whether more remains can be located.

Could a rarer find — something like a saber-toothed cat that would have hunted the camels and horses uncovered by the oil company machine operator — present itself to scientists as they continue to work?

“It’s unlikely,” Czaplewski said at the dig site. “I mean, people say we have mountain lions here in Oklahoma now … but how often do you see them?

“How often do you find their bones lying around?”

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16 replies »

  1. Wow..interesting and exciting findings! The proof…Wild Horses are native to North America! (-: Amazing the fossils date back 5 million to 12 milion years! Thanks for sharing RT.

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    • This is awesome! – Is there a possibility that these findings could warrant an official dig site that would also interfere with the fracking & round ups? Here or in other locations?

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  2. I am so tired of hearing that horses aren’t native to America.
    America has been brain washed with lies about our Wild Horses.
    Great News!

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  3. Even though I am not big on them drilling because they are taking our wild horses land, I am glad that the drillers were aware of the find they came upon, and brought it to someones attention. Maybe now the idiots who think the horses are not native to our lands can suck it up and agree that the wild horses and burros need to be better protected. Like the law states that they should. Stop the round-ups and stop the slaughter!!!!!

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  4. Mass extinctions linked to asteroid or comet impact

    The dramatic climate shift that saw the demise of horses, mammoths, mastadons, camels and giant ground sloths in North America has been linked by researchers to the impact of an asteroid or comet.

    The extinctions occurred at a time of dramatic transformation across the North American landscape, which lost a diversity of large animals that equalled or surpassed Africa’s wildlife-rich Serengeti plains then or now.

    For the first time, the climate shift around the time of the extinctions, that has long fascinated scientists, has been linked to the impact in Quebec of an asteroid or comet, Dartmouth College researchers and their colleagues report in a new study funded by the National Science Foundation.

    The impact took place about 12,900 years ago, at the beginning of the Younger Dryas period, and marks an abrupt global change to a colder, dryer climate, with far-reaching effects on both animals and humans, the scientists say.

    In North America the big animals all vanished.

    Their human hunters, known to archaeologists as the Clovis people, set aside their heavy-duty spears and turned to a hunter-gatherer subsistence diet of roots, berries, and smaller game.

    “The Younger Dryas cooling is a very intriguing event that impacted human history in a profound manner,” says Mukul Sharma, a professor in the Department of Earth Sciences and one of the authors of a new paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

    “Environmental stresses may also have caused Natufians in the Near East to settle down for the first time and pursue agriculture.”

    That these powerful environmental changes occurred is not in dispute, but there has been controversy over why they happened. The new paper focuses on one cause: a comet or meteor striking the Earth.

    The classical view of the Younger Dryas cooling interlude has been that a surge of meltwater from the North American ice sheet was behind it all.

    According to this theory, a large quantity of fresh water accumulated behind an ice dam. The dam suddenly ruptured and dumped all this water into the Atlantic Ocean. The sudden influx is thought to have shut down the ocean currents that move tropical water northward, resulting in the cold, dry climate of the Younger Dryas.

    However, Sharma and his colleagues from Dartmouth and other institutions have discovered conclusive evidence linking an extraterrestrial impact with this environmental transformation.

    The paper presents a scenario in which a meteor or a comet collided with the Earth.

    The report focuses on spherules, droplets of solidified molten rock expelled by the impact. The spherules in question were recovered from Younger Dryas boundary layers at sites in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the layers having been deposited at the beginning of the period.

    The geochemistry and mineralogy profiles of the spherules are identical to rock found in southern Quebec, where Sharma and his colleagues say the impact took place.

    “What is exciting in our paper is that we have for the first time narrowed down the region where a Younger Dryas impact did take place,” says Sharma, “even though we have not yet found its crater.”

    There is a known impact crater in Quebec — the 4-kilometer-wide Corossal crater.

    However, based on mineralogical and geochemical studies, it is not the impact source for the material found in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

    People have written about many impacts in different parts of the world based on the presence of spherules.

    “It may well have taken multiple concurrent impacts to bring about the extensive environmental changes of the Younger Dryas,” says Sharma.

    “However, to date, no impact craters have been found, and our research will help track one of them down.”

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  5. Time to bring “home” a few thousand camels and turn them lose on their native land and rid the land of the non-native domestic cattle and sheep? (please excuse my sarcasm but I couldn’t help thinking how BLM and USFW and USFS would respond to their native and non-native issues with thousands of native camels walking around LOL)

    I appreciate these scientific findings that support the fact that wild horses are native in North America..

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  6. This is wonderful, hate to put a damper on it, BUT will BLM really care or listen or actually admit they have been wrong??? Not so sure about that, they will ignore it like everything else….BUT Miracles CAN HAPPEN…………..

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    • Because Congress, DOI, USDA are in charge of the candy store called the United States of America.

      Politicians are drooling, salivating and doing cartwheels about the so-called endless “energy” (aka fossil fuel) in tar sands, etc. Look at Kenny Slaughterczar…he works for a huge legal firm that represents these land abusing, extraction trolls. Government ethics don’t even require a wait period any more for the revolving door users and abusers. Obama is to blame, just as much as Congress.

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  7. The wild equine haters say that wild equines went the way of the Sabre-tooth Tiger…..that they went extinct means they don’t belong here any longer. Actually, they are repeatedly inconsistent in that they support humans (mostly white, male ones…especially ones that fence off water and extract) and cattle on US lands, hate wolves, coyotes (never left) and just can’t wrap their minds around a little thing called science.

    I believe, based on many First Nation oral accounts (people of the horse) that the horse never left North America.

    Remember too that the wild equine haters also have a bit of a problem with a very native species called bison. They whack them too; on their protected lands but by God when they migrate outside the parks….WHACK!!!!!! The government even helps them with manpower and monies all to protect CATTLE!!!

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