Example to the evolution of higher organisms: Evolution of the Horse

The changes that the horse underwent during its phylogeny are given as an example to the evolution of higher organisms. According to the claim of Weller, Eohippus, known as the “primitive horse”, which lived in the Miocene Epoch, had four toes on each forefoot and three on each hind foot; all of the toes pressed on the ground when it walked l.

It is claimed that there were eight species of horse throughout the geological time and they are listed from the smallest to the biggest as it is seen in Figure 1 (Table l).

According to Johnson, the third toe of the horse developed while the others were gradually reduced and disappeared. It is claimed that it was because the horses ate the young branches and leaves of the trees but later began to eat grass since the pastures became dominant beginning from the Miocene Epoch.  

It is assumed that only by running fast can it be possible to be protected from the enemies in plains where the horses graze on the grassland; thus, the third toe developed and enlarged, causing the others to disappear. The toes other than the third toe atrophied and became useless and vestigial organs 2.     


When the horse fossils are examined carefully, it will be seen that there is no increase in the ribs in parallel with their development in the geological eras. As it is seen in Table l, The number of ribs decreases from 18 pairs in Eohippus to 15 pairs in Orohippus; then it increases to 19 pairs in Pliohippus and then decreases again to 16 pairs in Equus.

The decrease in the number of toes is attributed to the feeding style hence running and fleeing from the enemies. 

Table l. Species of horse assumed to live on the earth throughout geological eras                   

Geological Era

Horse Species

Feeding Styles

Number of Ribs

Number of Toes

Years Ago




16 pairs

1 toed

60 thousand




19 pairs

1 toed

12 million





1 toed

25 million




1 toed





3 toed

34 million




3 toed




15 pairs

3 toed

55 million



18 pairs

3 toed

The assumption, “If an organ is used, it will develop, and if it is not used, it will atrophy” is known as “La­marck’s Principle”. It has been understood for the last 20 years that Lamarck’s principle was based on modification, that is, the transmission of the change in somatic cells to the youngs is impossible; however, it is transmitted through a change in the gametes. Besides, through the same reasoning, it will be necessary to explain why many animals primarily rabbits that escape from their enemies did not undergo similar changes.

Wells states the following regarding the issue:

Three years before Charles Darwin's death in 1882, Yale University paleontologist Othniel Marsh published a drawing of horse fossils to show how modern one-toed horses had evolved from a small four-toed ancestor. His drawings, which included only foot bones and teeth, were supported by the addition of the skull and the drawings of horse fossils, and quickly found their way into museum exhibits and biology textbooks as evidence for evolution”3. 

Figure l. The drawing of evolution assumed to be related to the history of the horse.  In the first row, the whole body, in the second row, the legs, in the third row, the skull and in the last row the teeth are shown with their estimated drawings.

It is disputable whether “the splint bones in the horse leg are vestigial organs” because they have some functions. According to Cousins, the functions are as follows:

1. They provide strengthening for the horse's leg.

2. They are attachment areas for several leg muscles.

3. They make a protective groove for the suspensory ligament that supports a horse's weight 4.

Dunouy and Goldschmidt state that the single-toed horse existed on the earth in the Mesozoic Era, 130 million years ago, that is, long before the multi-toed horse. According to them, the first multi-toed horse appeared in the Eocene, 55 million years ago and the last generation of the multi-toed horse became extinct in the Miocene, about 25 million years ago5-7.

Boyce Rensberger, one of the evolutionist biologists, states that the scenario of the evolution of the horse has no foundation in the fossil record, and that no evolutionary process has been observed that would account for the gradual evolution of horses:

“The popularly told example of horse evolution, suggesting a gradual sequence of changes from four-toed fox-sized creatures living nearly 50 million years ago to today's much larger one-toed horse, has long been known to be wrong. Instead of gradual change, fossils of each intermediate species appear fully distinct, persist unchanged, and then become extinct. Therefore, they are not transitional forms but different forms with separate structures” 8.

Evolutionist Colin Patterson, one of the administrators of the British Museum of Natural History, expresses a similar view:

“The exhibit on horse evolution prepared fifty years ago, which is still on exhibit downstairs, is nothing but a bad imaginary story. The evolution of the horse has been presented as ‘the great truth’ in hundreds of scientific books. However, what those people do is nothing but speculation9.

It is stated that  the fossils that the equine evolution are based on the invented sequences of fossils, set out in order of size, belonging to different life forms that lived at different times in India, North America, South America and Europe. There is no consensus regarding the issue among the evolutionists. Various researchers have proposed more than 20 different equine evolution sequences. The only thing these sequences have in common is the belief that the first ancestor of the horse was a dog-like animal known as Eohippus (Hyracotherium) that lived in the Eocene Period some 55 million years ago. However, Hitching says, “Eohippus, which is presented as the “ancestor of the horse”, is in fact identical to the animal known as the hyrax, which is still to be found in Africa today, which has nothing to do with the horse and bears no resemblance to it 10.

Gordon R. Taylor, an evolutionist, writes the following in his book, “The Great Evolution Mystery” about the sequences of horses:

Paleontologists failed to find the fossils related to the equine sequences put forward by evolutionists. The sequence of horses is presented as the only fully worked-out example regarding evolution, but it is not so. The line from Eohippus to today’s Equus is very erratic. Specimens from different sources can be brought together in a convincing-looking sequence, but there is no evidence that they were actually ranged in this order in time11.

It is understood that each species of the multi-toed horses is a separate kind and that they lived in a certain period and then became extinct... The ancestors of the single-toed horses are also single-toed. 


1.Weller, M. J. The Course of Evolution. New York. 1969, pp. 689.

2. Johnson,W.H., Laubenga, R. A. and De Lanney, L. E. General  Biology. Third Edition. New York. 1965, 788 pp.                                                        

3. Wells, J. Icons of Evolution, Science or Myth? Trns. Orhan Düz. Evrimin İkonları, Bilim Mi Mit Mi? Gelenek yayıncılık. Kurtiş Matbaası, İstanbul, 2003 p. 181.

4. Cousins, F.W. Creation Research Society Quarterly. 1971, Vol. 8. P. 99.        

5. Dunouy, L.Human Destiny.The New American Library. New York.1947,P.74   

6. Gish, D.T. Have You Been Brain Washed? 1983.Trns. Âdem Tatlı,  Evolusyon. 11th impression, 1986, p.19.                                                                              

7. Goldschmidt, R.B. American Scientist. 1952, Vol. 40.p.97.                          

8. Rensberger, B. Houston Chronicle, 5 November, 1980, Chapter 4, p.15.                  

9. Patterson, C. Harper’s.  February, 1984, p.60.                                                      

10. Hitching, F. The Neck of the Giraffe: Where Darwin Went Wrong? New  York.Ticknor and Fields, 1982, p.30-31.

11. Gordon, R.T. The Great  Evolution  Mystery. London, Sphere Books, 1984, p.230.

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