Are Horses and Donkeys the Same Species?

Horses and Donkeys

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.

Although they look quite similar in appearance, there are many dissimilarities.

The physical differences between horses and donkeys include the following:

  • Donkeys’ backs are flatter than horses.
  • Donkeys have smaller hoofs than horses.
  • Donkeys have longer and thicker ears than horses.
  • Horses tend to have longer faces than Donkeys.
  • Horses have six lumbar vertebrae, while donkeys have only five.
  • Tails of horses and donkeys differ. Horses have long tails, whereas a donkey’s tail looks like a cow’s tail.

On the genetic level, the total number of chromosomes in a horse is 64 and donkeys have 62 chromosomes. A mule is a hybrid of a female horse and a male donkey. Hinny is a hybrid of a female donkey and a male horse. Both the offspring (hybrid offspring) produced by donkeys and horses are infertile, sterile, and cannot have their own offspring.

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 separate species. A species is generally defined as a group of organisms which are capable of interbreeding and creating viable offspring. In this case, the mule and the hinny are not really new species and are produced by two different species.

Also Read: Concept of Species

This was a brief introduction to species and why horses 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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