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European ass

The European ass (Equus hydruntinus) is an extinct equine from the middle and late Pleistocene of Eurasia. It appeared first in the fossil report 300,000 years before present and did not disappear until Holocene times. In the late Pleistocene it was widespread throughout much of western Eurasia from the Middle East to Europe, especially along the Mediterranean, with fossil reports from Sicily, Turkey, Spain, France and Portugal. In the east the range apparently stretched at least to the Volga and to Iran. In the north it reached almost to the North Sea in Germany. It is possible that the Iberian "encebro", extinct in the wild from the 16th century, could correspond to the Equus hydruntinus. Morphologically the European ass can be distinguished from asses and hemiones particularly by its molars and the relatively short nares. The exact systematic position is still not fully clear, but genetic and morphological analysis suggest that it is closely related to the Asiatic wild ass.[1][2]


The specific epithet, hydruntinus, means from Otranto (Hydruntum in Latin).


  1. ^ Ariane Burke, Vera Eisenmann and Graeme K. Ambler: The systematic position of Equus hydruntinus, an extinct species of Pleistocene equid. Quaternary Research, Volume 59, Issue 3, May 2003, Pages 459-469. online
  2. ^ LUDOVIC ORLANDO, MARYAM MACHKOUR, ARIANE BURKE, CHRISTOPHE J. DOUADY, VÉRA EISENMANN and CATHERINE HÄNNI: Geographic distribution of an extinct equid (Equus hydruntinus: Mammalia, Equidae) revealed by morphological and genetical analyses of fossils. Molecular Ecology Volume 15 Issue 8 Page 2083-2093, July 2006. online

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