Teaching in the Exhibition
exhibition engages all learning styles through hands-on and digital interactives, specimens, videos, and more. You'll find the six areas below on the Map of the Exhibition
. Each area includes an overview, exploration ideas, and guiding questions.
Three-toed, leaf-eating horses such as Hypohippus persisted in the forests of North America until about 9 million years ago.
1. The Evolution of Horses
This area describes the evolution of the horse. It depicts the great diversity of the family Equidae, the major stages of its evolution, and key biological adaptations.
- Diorama and touchable fossils and casts: Invite students to compare and contrast the physical traits of the ancient horse species depicted here.
- "Scientist at Work" video: Students can watch how paleontologist Bruce MacFadden examines fossil horse teeth to distinguish grass-grazers from leaf-browsers, revealing clues about ancient environments.
- "Meet the Relatives" wall panel: Students can examine the seven living species of the family Equidae—and their close relatives, tapirs and rhinos.
- How did ancient horses differ from horses today?
- How did the variety of horse species change over time?
- What traits helped ancient horses survive in their environments?
- How did modern horses become adapted to a dry, grassy habitat?
2. Horses and Hunters
This area includes cave paintings, tools, and other prehistoric evidence showing that humans' first relationship with horses was hunting them for meat.
- Cave art, tools, and horse bones: Ask students to observe and describe what the three paintings depict and what the tools were used for.
- What do the cave art, tools, and bones suggest about the lives of Ice Age people and their relationship to horses?
At Krasnyi Yar, the site of an ancient village, scientists found these horse bones carefully buried--a clue to domestication.
3. Domesticating Horses
This area recreates Krasnyi Yar, the site of a 5,000-year-old human settlement in Kazakhstan where archaeologists are investigating the question: Were horses domesticated here?
- Dig site diorama and village model: Invite students to investigate this display and gather as much evidence for horse domestication as they can.
- "Scientist at Work" video: Students can learn why it is challenging for archaeologists like Sandra Olsen to definitively answer where and when horses were first domesticated.
- What questions are scientists investigating at Krasnyi Yar?
- How are scientists using technology in their search for evidence?
- What evidence have they found?
- How have scientists used the evidence to develop an explanation?
4. The Nature of Horses
This area highlights the biological traits that make horses well suited for domestication.
- Biology of the Horse interactives: Students can explore the form and function of the ears, eyes, digestive system, and locomotion of the horse on a life-size video screen using two interactive stations.
- The Nature of Horses railing panels: Students can learn which behavioral traits of the horse make it ideal for domestication.
- What physical and behavioral traits make horses useful to humans?
5. How We Shaped Horses / How Horses Shaped Us
People bred small Shetland ponies to work in coal mine shafts.
© Durham Mining Museum
This area depicts how people's use of the horse has transformed societies around the world and across time. It covers the realms of warfare, work, status and spirituality, travel and trade, and sports.
- Warfare: Students can examine artifacts that depict warriors on horseback around the world as well as horse tack and armor.
- Horsepower interactive: Students can push the bar to measure their horsepower.
- Draft horse/Shetland pony skeletons: Invite students to compare the form and function of two very different breeds of workhorses.
- "Spin and Look In" zoetrope: Students can compare horse gaits with this device featuring the famed historical stop-action photography of Eadweard Muybridge.
This 100-year-old saddle was likely used by a wealthy rider in Russia's Sakha Republic.
- Horse regalia: Students can observe the ways different cultures dress and use horses as status symbols.
- Locking Leg model: Students can move the bones and ligaments in a model leg to understand why horses can stand all day without tiring.
- Sports: Students can explore how different cultures use horses for sport.
- In what ways have humans used horses?
- How has their use transformed human societies?
- What are some examples of the use of horses as symbols of wealth and status?
6. An Enduring Bond
The role of the horse has dwindled in most societies today, but our relationship with them continues. This area features ongoing and emerging roles for horses, such as their use in therapy.
- Horse Breeds interactive: Students can explore 18 breeds of horses and learn how their traits differ.
- What traits do horse breeders select? Why?
- What are examples of the bond between horses and humans?
- How are the roles of horses changing over time?