Study: Spotted Horse Coats Lost Luster in Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages sorrel horses outnumbered all other coat colors, with bay and black following close behind.
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A sunny afternoon, 900 AD, central France.

Horse seller: How about this nice leopard-spotted horse? A fine specimen.

Decked-out nobleman: Heavens, no! That coat is so old fashioned. Really! Show me a sorrel to match my red velour robes.

If you think fashion is limited to clothes and architecture, think again. A recent international genomics study has revealed that human preferences had considerable effects on the evolution of horse coat colors—especially patterned coats. Spotted horses, from paints to leopards, were mostly phased out in the Middle Ages after a strong period of popularity and proliferation from prehistoric times to the Bronze Age. But they’ve come “back into fashion” in recent centuries, leading to their own specific breeds, the authors said

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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