Mongolians practiced horse dentistry as early as 3,200 years ago | Science News


Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.

News in Brief

Mongolians practiced horse dentistry as early as 3,200 years ago

Equine tooth extractions evolved to make way for a riding bit, making mounted warfare possible

3:00pm, July 2, 2018
Mongolian herder

EXTRACTION ACTION  A Mongolian herder removes a first premolar tooth from a young horse using a screwdriver. Mongolian herders invented a comparable procedure nearly 2,800 years ago so that horses could safely hold metal bits in their mouths while being ridden, a new report concludes.

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.

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content