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47-Million-Year-Old Fossil of Horse, Unborn Foal Unveiled

Paleontologists in Frankfurt presented a 47-million year old fossil of a horse and its unborn foal from the Eocene Epoch.
Paleontologists in Frankfurt presented a 47-million year old fossil of a horse and its unborn foal from the Eocene Epoch. Senckenberg Research Institute Frankfurt

MAINZ, Germany — Paleontologists have unveiled images of a 47-million-year-old fossil of a horse and its unborn foal. The fossil has provided scientists with new insight into the life and development of the ancient creatures — which are officially known as Eurohippus messelensis. It was uncovered by scientists from the Senckenberg Research Institute at a former coal pit near Frankfurt in 2000, but work on the object started only two years ago. The relic was presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in Berlin. “The quality of the fossil is exceptional,” Dr. Jens Lorenz Franzen, the lead author of the study, told NBC News. “The size of the fetus and the presence of fully developed milk teeth indicate that it was close to delivery when the foal and its mother died." The mare has four toes on her front feet and three on her rear feet and was not bigger than the average-sized dog of modern times.

- Andy Eckardt