Proof the Spotted Horse Lived 25,000 Years Ago
Byline: Tamara Cohen Science Reporter
THE paintings had been put down to a caveman's vivid imagination.
But scientists now say that horses with dalmatian-like coats depicted in a 25,000-year-old etching probably did roam Western Europe in ancient times.
DNA analysis of bones and teeth from the Stone Age has uncovered a genetic mutation which would have caused the distinctive pattern of black spots on a white coat.
Researchers from the University of York and international colleagues tested DNA from 31 wild horse fossils found in 15 locations across Europe, from France to Siberia.
Six shared a gene associated with this 'leopard-like' spotting.
Of the ten fossils found in Western Europe, from sites in south western France and the Cantabrian coast of Spain, four had the 'leopard' gene, suggesting these horses could have been quite common at the time.
The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveals that the other two matches were found at a site in modern Ukraine, but may have been brought there by traders 20,000 years later. …