Are Horses and Donkeys the Same Species?

No, Horses and donkeys are two different species but belong to the same family Equidae and the genus Equus. They both have different numbers of chromosomes. At first glance, both look fairly similar and have some things in common, these two creatures are quite distinct.

The physical differences include:

  • Donkeys backs are flatter than horses.
  • Donkeys have smaller hoofs than horses.
  • Donkeys have longer and thicker ears than horses.
  • Horses tend to have a long face than Donkeys.
  • Horses have six vertebrates, while donkeys have only five.
  • Horses have long tails with separate strands of hair, but a donkey’s tail looks more similar to the cow’s tail.

In the genetic level, the total number of chromosomes in the horse is 64 and donkey have 62 number of chromosomes. When a male donkey and a female horse mate, they produce a mule. When a male horse and a female donkey mate, they produce a hinny. Both the offspring (hybrid offspring) produced by donkeys and horses are infertile, sterile, cannot have its own offspring and both have 31paired of chromosomes each.

If the produced offspring is fertile then the animals are of the same species and if the produced offspring is sterile then they are of different species. Because of this, both horses and donkeys are considered as a separate species. A species is generally defined as a group of organisms, which are capable of interbreeding and creating viable offsprings. In this case, mule and the hinny are not really a new species and are produced by two different species.

Also Read: Concept of Species

This was a brief introduction to species and why horse and donkeys are considered two different species. Stay tuned with BYJU’S to learn more about the differences and some important biology facts on species.

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