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Selerikan Pony
Biographical Information
Name(s) Selerikan Pony
Age 8
Sex m
Status equine
Culture animal
Date(s) 35,000 to 39,000 ya
Current Location
Catalog #

Gold miners came across two legs and a tail belonging to a mummified pony sticking through the roof of a tunnel they were digging nine metres below frozen ground near the upper Indigirka River, in Yakutia, in 1968. Experts from the Zoological Institute in St Petersburg were able to recover most of the body but not the head.

Artist's rendition of the Wild Steppe Horse

Known as the Selerikan pony, the mature stallion lived between 35,000 and 39,000 years ago, and probably died at the age of seven or eight. The gastrointestinal tract was full, suggesting it died a quick death. Stomach content analysis identified grasses, sedge, herbs and woody plants as being part of its diet. The position in which the carcass was found, with its hind legs pointing down and more horizontal forelegs, led scientists to conclude the pony had died after becoming stuck in a bog.


A Pleistocene stallion preserved by freezing in Siberian permafrost.


The pony had broken humeri and ribs.


When the gold-mining operations opened a tunnel beneath its burial, its hindlegs protruded from the ceiling. These were used for holding cables and hanging lanterns but were eventually deemed inconvenient so were removed by blasting and thrown away. Officials at the Siberian Academy of Sciences eventually found out about the discovery and were able to retrieve both the discarded legs and the rest of the body, though the head was not preserved and was assumed to have been removed by predators while the horse was mired (Guthrie 1990).

Its preserved coat shows that it was dun coloured in life with a black mane and tail and a dark dorsal stripe. Long hairs are present right at the base of its tail, as is typical for caballoids or "true horses" which includes E. ferus and E. przewalskii.