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Merychippus.

The next horse in the chain, one that looked quite similar to todays horses, was the Merychippus. This horse stood over 36 inches (ten hands) at the shoulder and although he still had 3 toes there had been some changes. In the past the weight of the animal was on the outside toes, by now most of the weight was carried on the inside toe and the outside toes served little or no purpose. The head changed, the eye set allowing more area of vision, the neck got longer allowing for easier grazing.

Merychippus Merychippus

The outside toes had now began to shrink in size as they were no longer needed and the foot pad and single toe would begin to develop into what we know as a horse hoof.

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© J.O.Azarenko