Equine tooth extractions evolved to make way for a riding bit, making mounted warfare possible
Mongolian pastoralists were trying to remove troublesome teeth from horses’ mouths almost 3,200 years ago, making those mobile herders the earliest known practitioners of horse dentistry, a new study finds.
Those initial, incomplete tooth removals led to procedures for extracting forward-positioned cheek teeth known as first premolars from young horses, say archaeologist William Taylor and his colleagues. That dental practice, which dates to as early as about 2,800 years ago, coincided with the appearance in Mongolia of metal bits that made it easier for riders to control horses, the researchers report the week of July 2 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Long-distance travel and mounted warfare with sedentary civilizations across Asia soon followed (SN: 11/25/17, p.