How did Siberian DNA get into British Columbian long-feral horses?

Can’t find a better place to post this. An isolated population of feral horses is present on the elevated Chilcotin Plateau of British Columbia. It was long thought these horses were like the other feral horses in the Northwest; descendents from horses turned loose during the downfall of various goldrushes. However, a genetic study of these horses found them to be 90% Canadian DNA (eastern Canada/France) and 10% Yakut (East Siberian). This plateau is far from the coast and is not along aboriginal trade routes. The Canadian DNA itself was surprising; many thought these horses were the same as the feral herds in the western US - of Spanish origin. Yakut horses, being small, have never been in high demand, and there’s no record of Europeans using them. Russians were never in the area, and there’s no evidence of them trading horses with the native tribes. So the question remains; how did Siberian DNA end up in these isolated horses? As the article notes below, there’s an aboriginal report of a herd of “shetland pony”-like wild horses in the area.


Horses aren’t my specialty, but apparently some of those in Teddy Roosevelt NP have similar ancestry:

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I’m certainly not very knowledgeable, especially in this area. And, I have not yet read the article, though I look forward to doing that. Still, my first reaction to reading your question is, could not a herd of horses migrated on their own across the land bridge that used to connect along the Aleutian Islands ? Surely animals, besides humans, used the land bridge.


Horses went extinct in North America after Beringia was flooded. All North American horses are derived from ones humans brought over after Europeans came over.

The parsimonious explanation is that these particular horses are a result of mixed stock brought bz humans from different areas.

What the genetics are showing is telling more about human movement and behavior than it is about equines.

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Yakut horses are ancient, so it’s not a surprise their DNA can appear anywhere in the world, even if it’s far from traditional routes British Columbia is not that distant to come to for early settlers and as there were two routes of people coming to NA there’re even bigger chances, maybe it raises a question when horses were reintroduced to NA? Cause I don’t know which timings are now in common knowledge, maybe it’s still in frames of them.
Their ancestors were from Baical region, probably genetically close to all Asian horses of that period, so it could be different horses brought to NA, just close to these.

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Well, I meant a small band may have migrated over the land bridge when it existed that were not detected in the fossil record up to now. Perhaps, quite unlikely; but, utterly impossible?i don’t know.

I enjoyed the article in the original post; and subsequently was intrigued by this one that suggests horses should be considered a native North American species after all.

There is also this snippet in the article:
“ More to the point is her analysis of E. lambei , the Yukon horse, which was the most recent Equus species in North America prior to the horse’s disappearance from the continent. Her examination of E. lambei mtDNA (preserved in the Alaskan permafrost) has revealed that the species is genetically equivalent to E. caballus . That conclusion has been further supported by Michael Hofreiter, of the Department of Evolutionary Genetics at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, who has found that the variation fell within that of modern horses.”

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