Bison antiquus

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Bison antiquus, sometimes called the ancient bison, was the most common large herbivore of the North American continent for over ten thousand years, and is a direct ancestor of the living American bison.

During the Pleistocene Ice Age, steppe wisent (Bison priscus), migrated from Siberia into Alaska. This species then developed into the long-horned bison (Bison latifrons) which lived in North America for 3 million years. About 22,000 years ago, the long-horned bison slowly died out making way for Bison antiquus. B. antiquus were abundant from 18,000 ya until about 10,000 ya, when they became extinct, along with most of the Pleistocene megafauna. B. antiquus is the most commonly recovered herbivore from the La Brea tar pits.

B. antiquus was taller, had larger bones and horns and was 15-25% larger overall than modern bison. From tip to tip, the horns of B. antiquus measured approximately 3 feet (nearly one meter).



One of the best educational sites to view in situ semi-fossilized skeletons of over 500 individuals of Bison antiquus is the Hudson-Meng archeological site operated by the U.S. Forest Service, northwest of Crawford, Nebraska. A number of paleo-Indian spear and projectile points have been recovered in conjunction with the animal skeletons at the site, which is dated at approximately 9,700 to 10,000 years ago. The reason for the "die-off" of so many animals in one compact location is still in conjecture; some professionals argue it was the result of a very...
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