What makes horses so unique in the animal kingdom?
It’s pretty much truth that for as majestic and wonderful horses are, they have some weird anatomy and physiology stuff that just sets them apart from the rest of the animal world. Perhaps you know all of these things already, or you are in dire need of horse small talk to weird out the next stranger that you meet. So here are some horse tidbits that will make that stranger either run away or propose to you:
- Horses can’t vomit. The junction between the esophagus and the stomach is one of may sphincters in the horse’s body, and this one is crazy tight and strong. Additionally, when the stomach is full or over full, the fullness actually presses against this sphincter and makes it tighter. If you see "stuff" coming from your horse's mouth or nose, this is likely choke, a very dangerous medical emergency. Call the Vet pronto!
- Horses have evidence of their evolutionary past on their legs. Chestnuts and ergots are widely believed to be vestigial toes. Vestigial being the remnants of what once was. The other toes are thought to be the splint bones on either side of the cannon bone.
- Horses do not have gall bladders. In humans, gall bladders store bile that aids in the digestive process of fats. Horses, because of their constant grazing design, have no need to store bile for digestion later, and the amount of fat they eat is relatively small.
- Horse eyes are among the largest of the land mammals…. the better to see you with…. They also have monocular vision - so each eye sees it’s own thing. Compare that to humans, which have binocular vision where our two eyes process one image.
They see *almost* everything.
- Horses have a super duper hard time getting drunk. If it’s even possible at all. Horses produce a huge amount of alcohol dehydrogenase - the enzyme for breaking down alcohol and the products of fermentation (like everything they eat which ends up in their guts!).
- Some Arabian horses have five lumbar vertebrae instead of six, and 17 pairs of ribs instead of 18. It’s not consistent among all Arabian horses.
Tickle, tickle, tickle!!!
- Horse whiskers are vibrissae - aka tactile hairs. These whiskers let your horse know where is chin is...because as amazing as his eyes are, they can't see under his lips or chin.
- A horse’s chompers will take up more space in their head than their brain will. Incidentally, the horse brain is about half the size of the human brain.
What other weird anatomy and physiology facts are there to know about horses?