At an archaeology site in Big Stone southeast of Edmonton, Alberta, paleontologists have discovered the bones and teeth of ancient horses and camels dating from 1.5 to 4.5 million years ago. According to a story on CBC news, researchers began digging in the area in 2019, when they noticed that one gravel bed looked different than others in the same area. So they reached out to the Royal Alberta Museum (RAM) for expertise in dating the rocks. One of the RAM’s paleontologists, Christina Barron-Ortiz, agreed to come take a look but didn’t expect much. “Usually, it’s really hard to find fossils in gravels,” she told the public media outlet. She explained that such gravel beds are the remains of ancient rivers which often break down animal bones into fragments that are often too tiny to excavate.

A camel.

It sounds surprising, but horses and even camels originated in North America before migrating to other parts of the world. (Hans Benn/Pixabay)

But then Barron-Ortiz arrived at the site in 2019. Her colleague Katherine Bramble found a premolar tooth belonging to the upper jaw of a prehistoric horse, an “exceedingly rare” find, much to everyone’s excitement. And ever since that find paleontologists have continued to excavate the Big Stone site, finding other horse bones and teeth, as well as camel bones.

The CBC report also pointed out that both horses and camels lived in North America about four million years ago, before vanishing around 10,000 years ago. Since both animals are grass eaters, it is likely they lived off the grasslands in Alberta between 1.5 and 4.5 million years ago.