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Science

Spotted Horses May Have Roamed Europe 25,000 Years Ago 87

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the space-horses-run-the-cia dept.
sciencehabit writes with an excerpt from Science: "About 25,000 years ago, humans began painting a curious creature on the walls of European caves. Among the rhinos, wild cattle, and other animals, they sketched a white horse with black spots. Although such horses are popular breeds today, scientists didn't think they existed before humans domesticated the species about 5000 years ago. Now, a new study of prehistoric horse DNA concludes that spotted horses did indeed roam ancient Europe, suggesting that early artists may have been reproducing what they saw rather than creating imaginary creatures."
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Spotted Horses May Have Roamed Europe 25,000 Years Ago

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  • Well (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @06:52AM (#37983364)

    We (in Europe) prefer to call them cows.

    • by laejoh (648921)

      In ancient times...
      Hundreds of years before the dawn of history
      Lived a strange race of people... the Druids

      No one knows who they were or what they were doing
      But their legacy remains
      Hewn into the living rock... Of Stonehenge

      Well... now we know what the Druids were doing. They were painting horses!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Damn, and I was rooting for psychedelic use among cave painters.

  • While spotted horses once ran and roamed the fertile plains of Europe, they may have been a small subset of the total horse population. Maybe the spotted horses were made fun of. Maybe the cave-people laughed as they graced the walls of caves with their likeness. It's never been easy to be different, and possibly the cave-people just wanted to say to history.. 'we have diversity too'. Or, maybe not. Maybe all the horses were spotted. Maybe some were striped, or perhaps looked like a Palomino. Would we feel

    • Anyone here, really, could (unethically) make a Slashdot page on G+ and doggedly keep track of the stories for the benefit of the whole world. Pity we're all lazy bastards...

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Any real slashdotter would automate it. Today's xkcd [xkcd.com] applies.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @08:28AM (#37983730)

      If you don't like going to Facebook to find out what's on Slashdot, the following link is extremely useful:

      http://www.slashdot.org

      • I use the RSS feed for my google home page.

        Every time I use google there is the list of the 9 most recent Slashdot articles approved.

        Don't know why Google only allows 9 not 10... I think the people from the "snooze timer institute" have been sleeping with some of the google execs.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          It's trinary: 3^2 is 9. Slashdot is a computer-oriented site, and computers work in trinary numbers, expressing everything as zero, one, or CowboyNeal. This system was pioneered by C. S. Peirce, the only American philosopher and physicist to be kicked out of both Harvard and Princeton for moral turpitude: his trinary-based logic lies at the heart of Slashcode, the efficient, well-designed, standards-compliant and always fully functional content management system that delivers fresh, non-reduplicated, auth

      • If you don't like going to Facebook to find out what's on Slashdot, the following link is extremely useful:

        http://www.slashdot.org

        I just recently started reading my /. here:
        http://alterslash.org/ [alterslash.org]

    • by Inda (580031)
      I like horses - mainly nags - but this was a story I skipped on the BBC yesterday because I cannot see any point to it.

      Brown is the only colour that matters with horses. The brown horse always wins.
    • by corbettw (214229)

      Holy shit, there's some one Slashdot who doesn't use an RSS feed to get updates on what's on the main page? Git off my lawn!

  • According to a rumor I just made up, Harry potter has been Lobbying for their recognition for a while

  • ...humans began painting a curious creature on the walls of European caves. Among the rhinos...

    Did I miss a memo?

  • So these cavemen were horse-spotters! Bwahahaha.
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @08:39AM (#37983788) Homepage

    how much many modern people assume our primitive ancestors were total morons who had more in common with a screaming chimp than modern humans in their ability to grasp what they saw happening around them. How fucking arrogant do you have to be to believe that they were just making up something like this instead of perhaps prizing the spotted horses as more aesthetically pleasing to their sensibilities?

    When you look at what many of the "scientifically-minded" believed in the 19th and early 20th century like phrenology, eugenics, "the noble savage" and a host of other things it is downright shocking that any remotely history-literate person can be so arrogant.

    • by cfc-12 (1195347)

      How fucking arrogant do you have to be to believe that they were just making up something like this instead of perhaps prizing the spotted horses as more aesthetically pleasing to their sensibilities?

      I agree with your main point, but I'm not sure arrogant is the right word. Surely it would take a more advanced mind to invent and draw an animal that nobody has ever seen before than just to draw something that you see every day.

      I'm not sure why anyone would have assumed the creatures were imaginary, arrogant or not.

      • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @09:22AM (#37984020)
        There are actually two reasons why archeologists believed that the spotted horses were imaginary. The first is that in dogs a spotted coat is a result of the domestication process (as was demonstrated by a Russian researcher who bred foxes to produce a creature that had the same relationship to foxes that dogs have to wolves--simplification of the study). The second is that earlier studies of the DNA of horses from the time showed only black and brown coats.
        • by geekopus (130194)

          GP is right though: The fact that there were drawings should have tipped them off that maybe their analysis was incomplete, rather than drawing the unwarranted conclusion of "Well, they must have just made them up".

          This is the scientific equivalent of those idiots that drive off of cliffs because of what their GPS tells them [techdirt.com] rather than what they see with their own two eyes.

          • Depending on how they approached it, concluding that the spotted horses were fantasy could be good science.
            However, archeology has done this in a manner that suggests those who go into archeology are too quick to conclude that ancient recorders (whether in writing or in art) of history were fantasists of the first order. In the 1800s, archeologists believed that Biblical references to the Assyrians were made up and that the Assyrians never existed because there were no references to the Assyrians in the r
            • by adavies42 (746183)

              I think with archaeologists, there was (and probably still is) a lingering hangover from the Middle Ages that severely warped their ability to value "traditional" sources (the Bible, classical mythology, etc.) seriously. Too many people wanted too strongly to prove they weren't taking "silly old myths" seriously....

      • You never take an artistic rendering as a fact in science. See dinosaurs.
        • by clintp (5169)

          You never take an artistic rendering as a fact in science. See dinosaurs.

          I'd take a Audubon rendition of a bird to be a reasonable description of a specimen of a species. Not science, but a reliable factual eyewitness account.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      How fucking arrogant do you have to be to believe that they were just making up something like this

      I think you're the arrogant one thinking everything they did was to be some kind of accurate historical record. Lots of modern day humans draw mythological or other fictional creatures too, maybe someone told a tall tale and a shaman decided to paint it on a cave wall. It would be foolish to take it all as fact.

      When you look at what many of the "scientifically-minded" believed in the 19th and early 20th century like phrenology, eugenics, "the noble savage" and a host of other things it is downright shocking that any remotely history-literate person can be so arrogant.

      What's funny to me is that we've bred wolves to dogs, yet deny that humans can be bred. It might not be a society that we want, but it's no myth that through directed reproduction we could change hum

      • by Nemo137 (1207298)
        Because the influence of cultural systems on humans is greater than the influence of genetics. So any potential variations are swamped by by cultural variations, as seen by, oh, the entire goddamn sweep of human history.
    • I know this is a little off-topic but phrenology was founded in good science. It's basic ideas play a large role in how we view the brain today. What happened was that the science of phrenology was popularized (essentially politicized), losing its soundness (for the day) and credibility in the process (think pop psychology shows on T.V.). Phrenology gets a bad wrap because it was misused and abused. Since Gall didn't have any lovely MRI machines at his disposal, he did what he could - try to localize cognit
    • by Nyder (754090)

      how much many modern people assume our primitive ancestors were total morons who had more in common with a screaming chimp than modern humans in their ability to grasp what they saw happening around them. How fucking arrogant do you have to be to believe that they were just making up something....

      Not sure, but all them religions seemed made up...

    • How fucking arrogant do you have to be to believe that they were just making up something like this instead of perhaps prizing the spotted horses as more aesthetically pleasing to their sensibilities?

      If paintings are all the evidence you need, then surely you find the drawings, painting and written Biblical references to the unicorn even more compelling? How about the extensive and ancient Chinese descriptions of the dragon? Absent other evidence that the spotted horse actually existed, it isn't unreasonable to discount the pictures as fantasy.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      how much many modern people assume our primitive ancestors were total morons who had more in common with a screaming chimp than modern humans in their ability to grasp what they saw happening around them. How fucking arrogant do you have to be to believe that they were just making up something like this instead of perhaps prizing the spotted horses as more aesthetically pleasing to their sensibilities?

      When you look at what many of the "scientifically-minded" believed in the 19th and early 20th century like phrenology, eugenics, "the noble savage" and a host of other things it is downright shocking that any remotely history-literate person can be so arrogant.

      This is common a approach to archeology these days. If you did, you'll find there are conflicts even between archeologists and Egyptologists. There are common cases where oral traditions lay out a history, which if fully backed by artifacts and even written history which conflict with popular timelines so all the facts are literally ignored and a new timeline is completely invited. The completely falsified timeline is then published and that's what is commonly taught. Interestingly enough, most all the fac

    • by Shatrat (855151)

      screaming chimp than modern humans in their ability to grasp what they saw happening around them

      Maybe we just assume this of artists, ancestral or otherwise?

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @09:00AM (#37983884)

    It is interesting how we like to see Cavemen as dumb unsophisticated creatures. They were just as smart if not smarter then us today. The key difference was they didn't discover a lot of technology we take advantage of. How many of us will know to find metal ore. If you did find it how many would be using it in a fire hot enough to melt it.. Still after you melted it and find ways of molding it. You will probably be only using for jewelry, until you figure out more of its properties. A lot of these early discoveries were just random luck. And it could take a few generations before these random chances clicked.
     

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ZeroExistenZ (721849)

      They were just as smart if not smarter then us today. The key difference was they didn't discover a lot of technology we take advantage of.

      That "discovery" is part of our historic background and social evolution. We have have rediscovered the knowledge stored in the East (they transcribed the Greek wisdom and had mathematics and astronomy) with the crusades giving us "Enlightenment" and later making knowledge accessible. The desire to make knowledge easily accessible produced the bookpress. Without the abil

      • by NiteShaed (315799)

        Cavemen knew how to operate in a world that we cannot even phantom, not by choice but by necessity.

        It's true. The average Slashdotter wouldn't stand a ghost of a chance in their environment.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Depends on the cave man.

      We tend to forget that prehistory goes back a VERY long way. 5,000 years ago may seem like a long time to us, but if you drew a to-scale timeline of human existence from the earliest homo-sapiens to the present, these prehistoric painters would be considered ultra modern. Civilization itself would be such a recent invention that you would say it's too early to tell whether it's going to stay around a while, or if it's just a fad.

      And that's not even taking into consideration other e

    • How many of us will know to find metal ore

      Everyone, if the challenge was to go back to the caveman days and find metal ore, when it was practically on the surface, and no one had exploited the "low hanging fruit" yet.

    • by ticker47 (954580)
      I agree, I've seen the Geico commercials and cavemen enjoy many of the same activities that we do.
  • Knabstrups are ok too.

    The best horse I ever owned was an Appaloosa. He died two years ago at the age of 36. Good old Snout.

  • by Yev000 (985549)

    Surely we need a Darwin icon here, not Einstein... Unless of course the horses were the result of some nuclear testing done by time travellers from the 24th century.

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