Horses were in North America before Europeans. Don’t tell Tucker Carlson

The dissertation is dated May2017, so I guess it has had plenty of time to attract attention (and possibly useful critiques)

Here’s one

which claims that she has cited pseudoscientific sources in support of her arguments.

She mentions how historians record the introduction of horses to the Indians in the 1690s but there are Spanish records that document Indians using horses as early as 1521 in Georgia and the Carolinas. It turns out she’s citing Richard Thornton who is citing Pietro Martire (Peter Martyr) d’ Anghiera’s De Orbo Novo [The New World] (Martyr D’ Anghiera, 1912)?, written in 1530.

One immediately wonders why she didn’t cite the original source. If she had, she might’ve noticed that Thornton, a pseudoarchaeologist, tells it like he wants it known.


Racist pseudoscientific sources, moreover. So much for deconstructing Eurocentric narratives.

Not without a single surprise, Jones’ article was published first in Ancient American magazine a fringe, hyper-diffusionist periodical that features many articles about how ancient peoples in the Americas had contact and help from smarter, more technologically advanced, white people from places like Europe well before Columbus arrived.


Collin’s dissertation cites Ancient Origins, Richard Thornton, and Dell Dowdell, and each of these sources variously or indirectly promote ideas about Native Americans which can be considered racist. Dowdell, the creator of, actively promotes the notion that Native Americans are the descendants of white Mormons and he believes the Earth is only as old as one of the cave paintings mentioned earlier in this article. Conspiracy theorist Richard Thornton publishes pseudoarchaeological claims of Maya settlements in Georgia. And Ancient Origins is a website that traffics in all manner of fake, fraudulent, and fantastic archaeological news, books, and media for profit. Authors they promote range from racists to general conspiracy theorists.

Coming across any one of these in a dissertation for a PhD should be enough to put all that dissertation’s sources in question. There were, perhaps, a dozen or more questionable sources of this caliber.


Queued up for comment re white anthropologists and Human origins:


It seems it would be very straightforward to see if any current horse DNA can be linked to extinct Ice Age American lineages, just like we can see small percentages of Denisovian and Neanderthal DNA in modern humans.

AFAIK, there is no evidence that such is the case–isn’t her current study using Old World fossil horse DNA? But I’d love to learn of any new evidence (reliable, not von Daniken crud, please)


I’m going to suggest that perhaps the intent was to point out how often it’s mentioned that native people came over the land bridge, compared with similar descriptions of how everyone else on the planet got to where they are.

I think when people talk about the ancient people in the Mediterranean, for instance, they very rarely, if ever mention how their ancestors would have arrived there by crossing the Red Sea and going through Yemen. It’s just not part of the narrative. The Ancient Greeks are the Ancient Greeks, and their ancestral home is Greece.

Of course you can explain that by saying that some migrations were more “interesting.” It’s cool to know how people reached the South Pacific, or Hawaii, or North America. But it does seem to get mentioned far more for some peoples than for others.

I’d posit that no school-age descriptions of European or Asian history ever starts with reminding kids of how humans migrated there. Even after you learn about how humans came from Africa, in terms of learning the history of the people, they had just “been there.”


Ah! Here we have the missing link. Apparently the Book of Mormon refers to horses in the Americas before Columbus so the Church of Latter Day Saints has a vested interest in proving that there were horses in the Americas before Columbus.

When I read this my first thought was that the Later Day Saints would be all over this. I wonder if there is more of a connection here.

While there is some interesting evidence presented it doesn’t seem nearly convincing to me as a non-scientist. Images of horses from before they were (re)introduced comes awfully close to Erich von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods and interpreting every squiggle as evidence of ancient aliens.


Lots of cultures have migration myths-- the israelites, the romans, etc. Of course, there are those that don’t have such a myth and the suggestion that they did in fact migrate from elsewhere is unwelcome.

edited for syntax


7 posts were split to a new topic: The accuracy of anthropological research: horses edition

There is the old theory that invading Dorians replaced the Mycenaean Greeks :wink: .

More generally, ancient Europe had lots of population migrations including like the whole Migration Period, and Indo-European languages are thought to have originated outside of Europe. I guess that hasn’t made a big impression on the general public though.


Her thesis says that genetic sequencing of the putative non-introduced American horses has not been done.

Initially, the design of this project included comparing the DNA of the horses at my Sanctuary with the genome sequencing of ancient North and South American horses. However, at the time such sequencing had not been completed. …Continued work…would allow for surviving horses to be tested… If so,…

So she is saying that she has a testable hypothesis. Which is good science, but not a reason to assume the conclusion of what the results of that test would be.

It is not racist to say that (based on available evidence and subject to correction with further data) the horse went extinct in the Americas.

It is not racist to say that pre-contact Italians and Irish didn’t have tomatoes and potatoes. (You could say it in a racist manner, of course.)


But that’s just because it’s relatively easy to walk from Africa to the Mediterranean. As a counterpoint: I very much learned in school about the first humans crossing the Alps to settle in central and northern Europe.


There is this

Abstract.—For more than a century many paleontologists, biologists, paleoecologists, and archaeologists have contended that Equus species (American horse) became extinct on the North American continent by about 13,000 calibrated years BP – all part of the Late Pleistocene (Ice Age) extinction event. The paleontological project presented here that focuses on Equus from Rancho Carabanchel, San Luis Potosí, México became chronologically intriguing to us in having the horse consistently radiometrically dating into the Holocene, well beyond the presumed extinction event. Our approach to this observation was to conduct successive radiocarbon dates (n=19) tied as closely as possible to fossil remains and to stratigraphic units. The remains of the extant horse, Equus caballus, were recovered only in the upper-most Unit I while the extinct Equus cf. mexicanus, E. cf. conversidens, and E. cf. tau were recovered from the underlying Units II – VI of the late Holocene to approximately 45,000 calibrated years ago. We discuss how our data adds to the growing information which implies that horses may have persisted in this region of México well after the classical Late Pleistocene extinction event. Our conclusions may well illustrate that the extinction episode was actually a process lasting well into the Holocene and was not the event that many paleoecologists and archaeologist envision.

Keywords: Quaternary, Holocene, extinction, Carabanchel

It’s from this year.

From inside:

A small contingent of researchers has held the opinion that Equus survived well beyond the close of the Pleistocene (Rancholabrean) in North America. Our paleontological project that focused on horses from RC became chronologically interesting to us in having Equus radiometrically dating well into the Holocene so our approach was to conduct successive radiocarbon dates tied as closely as possible to fossil remains and to stratigraphic units (Table 1; Fig. 3). The lower jaw of Equus cf. mexicanus (USLPA 039) was recovered from the same stratigraphic layer with human artifacts. These lithic artifacts will be presented elsewhere. Other researchers in México have indicated the contemporaneity of extinct megafaunal species with humans (e.g., Heilprin 1891; Mercer 1896; Irwin-Williams 1967; Pichardo 2000, 2001, 2004, 2008). We feel that each locality and association of Holocene-age Equus needs to be fully evaluated on its own merits, hence, our presentation here for one such locality in northern México.

I’m getting the impression that Mario Pichardo is regarded with a fair bit of skepticism (a small contingent of researchers, indeed). Conversely, the mormons seem to be really excited about this sort of thing.


45ky is getting very close to the upper limit for 14C dating because nearly 8 half lives will have elapsed since the sample was preserved.

Looking at Table 1 in the paper there is a huge jump in radio carbon dates in the last four samples from 13.5ky (very late Pleistocene) to 28.7, 32.7 and a massive 41ky - none of which were done on the bones themselves.

1 Like

Dating of these fossils aside, the species mentioned are all synonyms for Haringtonhippus francisci and is generally removed from the Equus genus, having diverged from modern horses, zebras etc. 4 - 6 MYA.

(Synonyms. Equus altidens, Equus calobatus, Equus conversidens, Equus quinni, Equus littoralis, Equus semiplicatus, Equus tau, Equus zoyatalis .)

They are morphologically similar, but I’d imagine they’d be as about as suitable for husbandry as zebras.
(Sources: Haringtonhippus, haringtonhippus-francisci, Haringtonhippus - Wikipedia)


This reminds me of the fact that there’s been evidence that the Native Americans did have their own domesticated dogs well before colonization happened. I believe there’s been depictions both by colonizers and native tribes for a particular breed that was common throughout at least New England if I remember correctly. It’s odd that folks think they wouldn’t have horses nor dogs considering that those are probably the two most common animals that were around humans (aside from the cat of course). To think they wouldn’t have one or both seems like a fantasy story to me.


Yes, but unlike domesticated horses I didn’t think that the existence of pre-Colombian dogs in America was really in dispute.

Dogs have been with humans for many millennia, but horses weren’t domesticated in Asia until what, 6000 or so years ago? Humans arrived in America much earlier than that.


And there is clear genetic evidence for those dogs.


Right, clearly. It would be a tiny genetic signal. Any claim that there’s some population of pure North American equines are absurd. But even a trace of DNA remnant would be amazing.


There are some gaping holes in her research - any time the Spanish had to abandon a colony, they would turn the horses loose in hopes of coming back to a larger herd. Sometimes a few dozen, sometimes several thousand were abandoned to their fates.

Every ship headed to the new world for a while had to carry mares, and every expedition had to have mares with it. Horses were a renewable resource.

The traditional means of “raiding and trading” as well as the normal increase in feral herds is why you didn’t have to be personally contacted by Spaniards and handed the reins of a horse.