There was a TDC program not long ago about Oliver, the alleged “humanzee”. The part about Oliver was crap, but there was footage of a liger shown that just blew me away. It was bigger than the biggest tiger you’ll ever see.
All righty then, can someone who understands the taxonomy of horses, mules, asses, burros, donkeys and all their male, female, and juvenile (and castrati) appellations and cross breed forms (and which are sterile) please draw a diagram for me? Or at least an outline. I’m so confused. Thanks in advance.
Let’s try. Note that I don’t think anybody has actually brought up castrated animals to this point - let’s ignore it for now.
For the bare answer to the OP, read Q.E.D’s post and stop. Polycarp followed with a good answer about the scientific taxonomy of Equus, to within the degree that the taxonomists themselves agree about it.
Equus caballus - horse
Equus asinis - ass, called a donkey when domesticated. “burro” is also a variety of Equus Asinis. There is a lot of size difference among the varieties of Equus asinis, particularly among the domestic donkeys, which we have selectively bred. A large variety called the “mammoth” is usually used for the breeding of draft mules (see below).
Note that most equine species can cross breed, producing (usually) sterile hybrids (“zorse” / “zonkey” crossbreeds are possible, and usually sterile. Also, not terribly useful, as they turn out to be as nasty as their zebra parents).
Animal husbandry leaves us with more specific terminology for the economically useful horse and donkey:
stallion - male horse
mare - female horse
jack - male donkey (or ass)
jennet or jenny - female donkey (or ass)
mule, as used by a breeder - offspring of a male donkey and a female horse, usually sterile.
hinny - offspring of a female donkey and a male horse, also usually sterile.
— that just reiterates what’s already been said. Further pedantry on the subject:
BTW, mules and hinnies may be of either gender, and are fully capable of performing sexually. They’re just sterile, in most cases. In fact, male mules are usually castrated because they tend to be rather randy beasts otherwise. Female mules have estrus cycles, and can carry an implanted fetus.
(More terms - a female mule is called a “molly”, a male mule a “john”)
Mules were of economic importance as draft animals because they happen to pick up the right features from their parents - horses are stronger than donkeys, but also generally more prone to sickness or injury. The mule, happily, turns out to be strong like a horse and tough like a donkey.
Black with white stripes (and with a white belly and lower legs). IIRC this has been confirmed by examination of fetal zebras at different stages in development, which shows the coat color before and after the stripes develop.