Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dappled Horses of Pech-Merle may have been Real

The lead-in is here over at PNAS, but it's an interesting story, as the legendary Dappled Horses depicted in the 25,000 year old cave art of Pech-Merle may have been representational art rather than early creative or imaginary works. The phenotype for the leopard spot dappled-coat of certain modern horses has now been found in several pleisotecene and copper-age remains, which strongly suggests that this phenotype is not a modern variation but has a more venerable history.

This makes sense to me; the beauty of early cave art exemplifies developmental skills in keen observers who were relaying what they saw in their environment, that was likely important or noteworthy to them. I find it more reasonable to imagine these early artists as observers and recorders of their environment, given their choice of subject matter. The abstraction of art in later ages strike me as something that may necessarily emerge over time, but not necessarily with the level of exoticism demonstrated in these paintings. It seems reasonable that abstraction necessarily follows interpretation of the observable environment, and the early cave art I think reflects this process or evolution in art and interpretation. Interesting stuff, either way.


  1. For me it absolutely has to be the prototype for the Appaloosa. Though the breed is a modern rendition of spotted horses. The variable in their DNA had to have a source! So Modern Appaloosas are perhaps a utilization of that prehistoric DNA resurfacing to make the breed. All Apploosas have leopard spots or speckles in some fashion. Some dark, some light.
    For Tori to send me these things is absolutely wonderful. I look at it from a more biological view. While he sees the humanity in the art and representation.

  2. You posted a comment! I am honored. Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised at all if modern breeding has brought out the dappled coats that may have been present naturally during the pleistocene.