Evolution of horse

From Anarchy In Action

Murray Bookchin cites the evolution of the horse as an example of what he calls participatory evolution, a process in which species and their environments play an active role in collaboratively shaping the evolutionary process. Bookchin writes:

The modern horse did not evolve alone. It lived not only among its predators and prey but in creatively interactive relationships with a great variety of plants and animals. It evolved in ever-changing ecocommunities such that the “rise” of Equos caballus occurred conjointly with other herbivores that shared, maintained, and even played a major role in creating their grasslands. The string of bones that traces eohippus to Equus is really evidence of the succession of the ecocommunities in which the animal and its ancestor interacted with each other.[1]

Peter Kropotkin, in Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, describes how horses live in societies and practice mutual aid:

Life in societies is again the rule with the large family of horses, which includes the wild horses and donkeys of Asia, the zebras, the mustangs, the cimarrones of the Pampas, and the half-wild horses of Mongolia and Siberia. They all live in numerous associations made up of many studs, each of which consists of a number of mares under the leadership of a male. These numberless inhabitants of the Old and the New World, badly organized on the whole for resisting both their numerous enemies and the adverse conditions of climate, would soon have disappeared from the surface of the earth were it not for their sociable spirit. When a beast of prey approaches them, several studs unite at once; they repulse the beast and sometimes chase it: and neither the wolf nor the bear, not even the lion, can capture a horse or even a zebra as long as they are not detached from the herd. When a drought is burning the grass in the prairies, they gather in herds of sometimes 10,000 individuals strong, and migrate. And when a snow-storm rages in the Steppes, each stud keeps close together, and repairs to a protected ravine. But if confidence disappears, or the group has been seized by panic, and disperses, the horses perish and the survivors are found after the storm half dying from fatigue. Union is their chief arm in the struggle for life, and man is their chief enemy. Before his increasing numbers the ancestors of our domestic horse (the Equus Przewalskii, so named by Polyakoff) have preferred to retire to the wildest and least accessible plateaus on the outskirts of Thibet, where they continue to live, surrounded by carnivores, under a climate as bad as that of the Arctic regions, but in a region inaccessible to man.

  1. Murray Bookchin, "Freedom and Necessity in Nature: A Problem in Ecological Ethics," Anarchist Library, https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/murray-bookchin-freedom-and-necessity-in-nature-a-problem-in-ecological-ethics.pdf.