Idaho’s extinct Hagerman horse to ride again

U-Haul's graphic: The Hagerman Horse grazed Idaho's ancient savanna over three million years ago. Fossils indicate this zebra-like species continued to evolve until 10,000 years ago, when all traces of the creatures suddenly vanished.
U-Haul’s graphic: The Hagerman Horse grazed Idaho’s ancient savanna over three million years ago. Fossils indicate this zebra-like species continued to evolve until 10,000 years ago, when all traces of the creatures suddenly vanished.

US shipping company U-Haul is featuring the extinct Hagerman Horse on 1800 of its new 26-foot moving vans. The Hagerman Horse was a precursor of the modern horse and roamed the land more than three million years ago along the shores of the now extinct Lake Idaho.

The official unveiling is on Friday, part of U-Haul’s “Venture Across America” campaign, at Coltharp Park in Hagerman, Idaho, and will kick off the opening ceremonies for this year’s Hagerman Fossil Days Celebration.

With horses lying at the heart of one of North America’s greatest mysteries, the uncovering of ancient, mysterious bones from the animal dubbed the “Hagerman Horse” was an extremely important find.

In 1928 cattle rancher Elmer Cook discovered some fossil bones on his land in in Hagerman, Idaho. He showed them to Dr H.T. Stearns of the U.S. Geological Survey who then passed them on to Dr. J. W. Gidley at the Smithsonian Institution. Identified as bones belonging to an extinct horse, the area where the fossils were discovered was excavated and three tons of specimens were sent back to the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.

Of all the fossils uncovered, the most important find was the large volume of a species of extinct horse known as Equus simplicidenes, and named the Hagerman horse.

It proved to be the largest sample of this extinct species from one locality and is the oldest known representative of the genus Equus, which now includes all modern horses, donkeys and zebras.

Hagerman Horse (left), Grevy's Zebra (center), Modern Thoroughbred (right)
Hagerman Horse (left), Grevy’s Zebra (center), Modern Thoroughbred (right)

“We are thrilled to partner with Hagerman Fossil Beds to educate the public about this ancient animal, now Idaho’s state fossil, that provided scientists clues to what the land was like more than 3 million years ago,” stated Doug McIntier, president, U-Haul Company of Idaho. “Now, people all over will have the privilege of seeing America’s first horse, as it comes to life and rides with U-Haul across North America on the sides of our moving vans.”

Neil King, Superintendent of the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, said the National Park Service was pleased with the choice by U-Haul. “Preserving the Hagerman fossils for future generations is our primary mission and having the Hagerman Horse displayed on vehicles traveling our roadways is a great opportunity for all Americans to learn about this special place in Idaho.”

Skeletons recovered at Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument have been, or currently are in the collection of such places as the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, the Field Museum in Chicago, the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, Denver Museum of Natural History, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Texas Memorial Museum in Austin, and the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles County. Such exposures made this horse famous and in 1988 the state legislature made it the state fossil of Idaho.

More on the Hagerman Horse

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One thought on “Idaho’s extinct Hagerman horse to ride again

  • July 11, 2015 at 11:14 am

    It looks like a Zebra head. 99% pf the population won’t even know that it’s not a Zebra!


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