Ancient Bison

(Ancient bison) Bison Antiquus 

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Following the Clovis Culture came the Folsom Man (8-10,000 years ago). The Folsom tools and weapons differed somewhat from their predecessors. (the points being smaller and fluted), and have been found not so much in the mammoth as in the Bison antiques,  a one-fourth-larger ancient cousin of the “American Buffalo.” By use of the spear throwing stick, early Indians could increase the range and force of their spears. But since the animals were so large,  the hunters often found it easier to kill these beast by driving them into swamps or over cliffs, rather than spearing them. (The Folsom, NM dig in 1925)

Robertson, Pauline Durrett & Robertson, R. L. Panhandle Pilgrimage: Illustrated Tales Tracing History in the Texas Panhandle, book, 1978; Amarillo, Texas. ( accessed September 27, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Canyon Area Library.

Ancient Bison Paleo Indians -Nomadic Hunters
Robertson, Pauline Durrett & Robertson, R. L. Panhandle Pilgrimage: Illustrated Tales Tracing History in the Texas Panhandle, book, 1978; Amarillo, Texas.
Thanks to Prehistoric Fauna for the use of their illustration and information. A site like no other.

Bison antiquus (Bison antiquus Leidy, 1852)Ancient Bison Ancient Bison Fauna

Order: Artiodactyla

Family: Bovidae

Dimensions: length – 4.6 m, height – 2.27 m, weight – 1,588 kg

Temporal range: During the later Pleistocene epoch, between 200,000 and 10,000 years ago (North America)

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.

Ancient Bison - Bison_antiquusDuring the later Pleistocene epoch, between 240,000 and 220,000 years ago, steppe wisent (B. priscus), migrated from Siberia into Alaska. This species inhabited parts of northern North America throughout the remainder of the Pleistocene. In midcontinent North America, however, B. priscus was replaced by the long-horned bison, B. latifrons, and somewhat later by B. antiquus. The larger B. latifrons appears to have died out by about 20,000 years ago. In contrast, B. antiquus became increasingly abundant in parts of midcontinent North America from 18,000 ya until about 10,000 ya, after which the species appears to have given rise to the living species, B. bison. B. antiquus is the most commonly recovered large mammalian 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. It reached up to 2.27 m tall, 4.6 m long, and a weight of 1,588 kg. From tip to tip, the horns of B. antiquus measured about 3 ft (nearly 1 m).

One of the best educational sites to view in situ semifossilized skeletons of over 500 individuals of B. antiquus is the Hudson-Meng archeological site operated by the U.S. Forest Service, 18 miles (29 km) 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 around 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 successful paleo-Indian hunt, while others feel the herd died as a result of some dramatic natural event, to be later scavenged by humans. Individuals of B. antiquus of both sexes and a typical range of ages have been found at the site.

According to internationally renowned archaeologist George Carr Frison, B. occidentalis and B. antiquus, an extinct subspecies of the smaller present-day bison, survived the Late Pleistocene period, between about 12,000 and 11,000 years ago, dominated by glaciation (the Wisconsin glaciation in North America), when many other megafauna became extinct. Plains and Rocky Mountain First Nations peoples depended on these bison as their major food source. Frison noted that the “oldest, well-documented bison kills by pedestrian human hunters in North America date to about 11,000 years ago.”

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bison Latifrons
Bison latifrons fossil. Bison latifrons Harlan, 1825 fossil buffalo skeleton from the Pleistocene of North America (public display, Cincinnati Museum of Natural History & Science, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA). The extinct giant buffalo, Bison latifrons, was remarkable in having horns with a >3 times longer span than the modern American buffalo (Bison bison).

Genus: Bison …………….Species: Bison latifrons (extinct Long-horned Bison)

…………….Species: Bison antiquus (extinct Ancient Bison) …………….Species: Bison bison American Bison …………………………..Subspecies: Bison bison bison (American Plains Bison) …………………………..Subspecies: Bison bison athabascae (American Wood Bison) …………….Species: Bison bonasus (European Bison) …………………………..Subspecies: Bison bonasus bonasus (Lowland Bison) …………………………..Subspecies: Bison bonasus caucasicus (extinct in 1925) .………………………….Subspecies: Bison bonasus hungarorum (extinct Hungarian Bison)

The steppe bison or steppe wisent (Bison priscus) is an extinct species of bison that was once found on the Mammoth steppe where its range included Europe, Central Asia, Japan, Yakutia, Beringia, and northwest Canada during the Quaternary.

The steppe bison is one of several extinct large mammals that roamed interior Alaska during the Wisconsinan glacial period, 100,000 to

Steppe Bison Mummy
Animals expanded south during occasional warm periods in the Ice Age, following a corridor between the sheets. A steppe bison mummy found in Alaska is 36,000 years old. “Blue Babe” was killed by giant Ice Age American lions. UA Museum of the North

10,000 years ago. This specimen died about 36,000 years ago and was found during the summer of 1979. It has a bluish color over the entire carcass, caused by the phosphorus in the animal tissue reacting with the iron in the soil to produce a mineral coating of vivianite – which became a brilliant blue when it was exposed to air. Hence the name Blue Babe.

Though new research shows that Blue Babe is at least 50,000 years old, according to the university’s Curator of Archaeology, Josh Reuther.

Atlas Obscura – News

ONE NIGHT IN 1984, A handful of lucky guests gathered at the Alaska home of paleontologist Dale Guthrie to eat stew crafted from a once-in-a-lifetime delicacy: the neck meat of an ancient, recently-discovered bison nicknamed Blue Babe.

The dinner party fit Alaska tradition: Since state law bans the buying, bartering, and selling of game meats, you can’t find local favorites such as caribou stew at restaurants. Those dishes are enjoyed when hunters host a gathering. But their meat source is usually the moose population—not a preserved piece of biological history.

Blue Babe had been discovered just five years earlier by gold miners, who noticed that a hydraulic mining hose melted part of the gunk that had kept the bison frozen. They reported their findings to the nearby University of Alaska Fairbanks. Concerned that it would decompose, Guthrie—then a professor and researcher at the university—opted to dig out Blue Babe immediately. But the icy, impenetrable surroundings made that challenging. So he cut off what he could, refroze it, and waited for the head and neck to thaw.

January 26, 2018


Blue Babe Steppe Bison
Eirik Granqvist working on the taxidermy of Blue Babe. UA MUSEUM OF THE NORTH

From the caption of the photo above, printed in the April 27, 1984 edition of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: VERY OLD BISON – Eirik Granqvist, chief head taxidermist for the Zoological Museum, University of Helsinski, Finland, works to restore the remains of a bison which died 36,000 years ago. The bison was preserved in permafrost until discovered three years ago. The specimen will soon be on display at the University of Alaska’s museum.

Bison latifrons (also known as the broad-headed paleo-bison, giant Ice Age bison or long-horned bison) is an extinct species of bison that lived in North America during the Pleistoceneepoch. B. latifrons thrived in North America for approximately 200,000 years, but became extinct some 20,000–30,000 years ago, at the beginning of the Last Glacial Maximum.