Oldest Evidence of Equine Dental Care Discovered in Mongolia

New research suggests that herders developed veterinary dentistry in Mongolia and eastern Eurasia more than 3,000 years ago.
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history of equine dental care
Researchers have found the oldest evidence of equine dentistry on record—dating back more than 3,000 years—in Mongolia. | Photo: iStock

Researchers have found the oldest evidence of equine dentistry on record—dating back more than 3,000 years—in Mongolia.

A team of scholars, led by William Taylor, MS, PhD, of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, in Germany, analyzed horse remains from an ancient Mongolian pastoral culture. Examination of skeletal remains from the impressive horse burials associated with the Deer Stone-Khirigsuur sulture showed that surgical procedures were used to remove baby teeth that could have caused young horses pain or difficulty feeding—world’s oldest known evidence for equine veterinary dental care.

Previous research has shown that these early herders were the first in eastern Eurasia to rely heavily on horses as livestock for food products and might have been among the first to use horses for mounted riding. Drawing on insights from his Mongolian colleagues Jamsranjav Bayarsaikhan, MS, PhD, and Tumurbaatar Tuvshinjargal, PhD, of the National Museum of Mongolia, Taylor argues that the development of horseback riding and a horse-based pastoral economy was a key driver for the development of equine veterinary care

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