Equus ferus ferus Boddaert, 1785

Tarpan, Tarpon (Goodwin & Goodwin, 1973)



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Equus equiferus Pallas, 1811; Equus gmelini Antonius, 1912; Equus sylvestris Brincken, 1826; Equus silvaticus Vetulani, 1928; Equus tarpan Pidoplichko, 1951; Also see notes


The Tarpan is one of the most complex cases of extinction caused by humans because of its close taxonomic and genetic affinities with its domestic descendants (Equus (ferus) caballus). The taxonomic classification of the two forms is a subject of ongoing dispute. Because the domesticated horse was included in Linnaeus' 10th edition of Systema Naturae, some have argued that this takes precedence over the Tarpan which was described in 1785 by Boddaert. However, ICZ (2003) has recently retained the scientific name Equus ferus for the tarpan because it is the wild ancestor to its (presumed) domestic form.


Conservation Status

Extinct or invalid (domestic origin)

Last record: 1851 (Goodwin & Goodwin, 1973); mid-to-late 1800's (many sources); 1918 (Groves, 1994); "by 1920" (Groves & Grubb, 2011)


The genes of the Tarpan live on in domestic horses. However, there is uncertainty as to whether the last few "full blood" Tarpans were in fact a Tarpan x domestic horse hybrid. In either case, the latest anybody is suggesting that the Tarpan survived to is 1918-1919 (Groves, 1994; Maas, 2009) or "by 1920" (Groves & Grubb, 2011). However, a recent study found that the Tarpan is of domestic origin and not a true wild species (Librado et al., 2021)





Biology & Ecology










Original scientific description:

Boddaert, Pieter. (1785). Elenchus Animalium, 1. C.R. Hake, Rotterdam, 174 pp.


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