Now Kent Hovind wouldn’t misrepresent things, would he?
Okay. Here’s the real story on the first horse being a hyrax.
The animal was originally called the Hyracotherium, which does mean “Hyrax-like beast.” Richard Owen did think it was a relative of the hyrax, and that’s where Ol’ Kent Hovind got that idea. At one time, we called these animals Eohippus, the dawn horse, but because the original name was Hyracotherium, we’ve gone back to that name.
However, Othniel Marsh realized that it was actually primitive ancestor of the horse when he found a full skeleton in 1876.
We now call this species Eohippus or “Dawn horse,” because we recognized that it was actually the first known horse to have ever existed. It is not a hyrax. Hyraxes are more closely related to elephants and sirens than to horses.
Dawn horse was actually quite a bit larger than it is commonly portrayed. It stood 14 inches at the shoulder and weighed about 50 pounds, so it was primitive, four-toed horse built along a basset hound’s frame. Modern hyraxes are nowhere near that size.
Kent Hovind claims the confusion was the other way around: The dawn horse was mistakenly claimed to be a horse and now we know it to be a hyrax.
He reverses the story to give his own half-baked theories credence. My guess is the Tulsa Zoo took down that display to shut these people up. And when they did shut up, they put it back up.
The level of Kent’s analysis comes down to one line: “If I get buried on top of a hamster, does that prove he’s my grandpa?”
And then the evolution of silverware.
This animal is now thought to be the basal odd-toed ungulate (a Palaeothere), and may be the ancestor of the horses, the tapirs, and the rhinos, too. Its exact relationship to these modern animals is not clear, but it is not a hyrax at all.
And if the horse didn’t evolve from the Hyracothere, it evolved from something very similar to it.