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Animal Themes
Prehistoric Mammals Theme Unit
Giddyup, Equus!



Giddyup, Equus!
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 3 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.19

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    horseback, doin, genus, giddyap, immediately, species, slender, successful, stubby, sleek, finding, grassy, magical, longer, spectacular, chunky
     content words:    Teeny Orohippus, Wild West, North America, Northern Africa, In Lascaux, New World


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Giddyup, Equus!
By Colleen Messina
  

1     Horseback riding is a lot of fun. But if you wanted to go horseback riding about 52 million years ago, you might have had a hard time finding a horse that was the just the right size. In fact, prehistoric horses might be scared if you told them to "giddyap!" One horse-like creature of long ago was only 16 inches tall!
 
2     Teeny Orohippus browsed around and nibbled on soft, green leaves. He had long jaws and big teeth in the back of his mouth. He had a chunky body. His eyes looked forward. His tail looked like a cleaning brush! His back was curved, not straight like a modern horse's back. Scientists have found fossils of this little horse in Wyoming. Orohippus lived in the ancient Wild West, but a modern cowboy would have squished him!
 
3     Fortunately for cowboys, horses grew bigger as time passed. Different species developed. Some of them liked living in dark, pine forests. Others liked the dry, grassy plains. Another kind of horse, whose fossils have been discovered in Colorado, was called Mesohippus. Scientists think that he lived about 37 million years ago. Mesohippus looked more like a modern horse. He had slender, longer legs. His front and hind feet had three toes. Each foot was light, so he could run quickly. This horse was only 21 inches tall, so he wouldn't be a good cow pony either.

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Animal Themes
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Prehistoric Mammals Theme Unit
             Prehistoric Mammals Theme Unit


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