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February 3, 2023

Two feral Chincoteague ponies graze along the dunes on Assateague Island

Two feral Chincoteague ponies graze along the dunes on Assateague Island. For years, this feral breed’s origins remained a mystery; however, a recent archaeological study could provide an explanation.

Researchers at the Florida Museum of Natural History unearthed a piece of a horse’s tooth dating back to Caribbean colonization from an archaeological site in northern Haiti. The site, known as Puerto Real, was once a bustling port town, an outpost under Spanish rule until it was abandoned in the mid-16th century. The discovery could shed light on the exploration patterns of Spanish colonists and a link between their horses and the feral horses on the island of Assateague.

[Research supported by U.S. National Science Foundation grant BCS 1930628.]

Learn more in the NSF Research News story Oldest DNA from domesticated American horse lends credence to shipwreck theory. (Date of image: unknown; date originally posted to NSF Multimedia Gallery: Feb. 3, 2023)

Credit: National Park Service

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