Horse Remains Are 26,000 Years Old

WHITEHORSE, Yukon Territory - Carbon-dating on the remains of a horse found last fall near the Alaskan-Canadian border show it died 26,000 years ago, experts say, making it one of the best-preserved Ice Age animals ever discovered in North America.

The dark chestnut hide is complete with blond mane and tail. Also recovered were a right foreleg with the flesh remaining, a couple of bones and stomach contents.

Miners found the horse near Dawson City, 340 miles north of Whitehorse.

Experts think it may have died in a creek bed and that an overhanging bank collapsed on it, preserving it through the millenniums.

"This is a very significant find in terms of understanding Ice Age animals, and it gives us a window into life in the Ice Age," Yukon archaeologist Ruth Gotthardt said this week.

As one example, she said, artists' depictions have shown the small Ice Age horse as having a short mane and tail, but this animal had a long mane and tail, as well as a beautiful coat.

The remains were so well-preserved that intestinal membranes are distinguishable, complete with digested food.

"We collected enough dung for specialists in botanical fossils and pollen to see what these animals ate," Gotthardt said.