New horse coat color pattern found in Iceland called 'ýruskjóttur'

Published 1430 GMT (2230 HKT) November 28, 2018
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A brand new color variant has appeared on an Icelandic horse called Ellert. Instead of having the typical characteristics of a bay dun Icelandic horse -- with a bay body, black mane, tail and primitive markings -- he has white "speckling" across his body, as well as a bald white face and partial icy blue eyes. Ellert frá Baldurshaga / Facebook
When he was born five years ago, his owners thought there'd been some sort of mix up during breeding. "We thought it was a mix up, that the mother had maybe gone to the wrong stallion," Ellert's owner Baldur Eiðsson said. "So we put him to DNA testing and Sær was definitely his father and his mother was Kengála." Rosa Birna
Ellert's DNA was sent to Tosso Leeb, professor and director of the Institute of Genetics at the University of Bern. He identified that Ellert was part of the "dominate white" gene -- and characterized the Icelandic horse as the first of its kind with the coat color allele: W21 (or ýruskjóttur). Ellert frá Baldurshaga / Instagram
Ellert has already produced four healthy offspring with the same color pattern. His owners hope to spread the color and establish it throughout the Icelandic horse breed. Ellert frá Baldurshaga / Instagram
Freyja Imsland, a genetic expert in Iceland who has worked closely with Eiðsson, told CNN that Ellert's variant is one-of-a-kind. "What makes Ellert unique is that he has a variant that is only present in him and his offspring -- this particular change doesn't exist in any other horse in the world," she said. Ellert frá Baldurshaga / Facebook
The farm -- located in Iceland's south -- has already reserved breeding spots with Ellert for next summer. Eiðsson said they had noticed that interest in the stallion is rising. "We're trying to care for all of them in the best way so that they will carry this DNA to the next coming generations," he added. Rosa Birna