PNAS: Palaeolithic horses finally spotted

Posted on 7 November 2011

Eighteen were bay, seven were black..., but six had spots.

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Some authors had argued that the leopard like spots seen on many horses found in cave paintings were drawn from the imagination, perhaps a mind-altered state. An international team of scientists including Michi Hofreiter and Terry O'Connor have confounded earlier interpretations, their research, published in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that a surprisingly high number of horses were spotted. The team speculate that the homozygote for the spotting gene are night-blind, which may have been a disadvantage, leading to a decline in the number of this colour variant.

Notes to editors:

 

PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1108982108   Genotypes of predomestic horses match phenotypes painted in Paleolithic works of cave art