Long-Horned Bison & Ancient Bison
February 2009

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*How Do We Know This? Like living animals, fossil remains of once-living animals are
classified and grouped according to their relationships to each other and to their ancestors.

(Jefferson 2001)(Kurtén & Anderson 1980)
(McDonald 1981) (Prusak et al 2004)

Describer (Date): C. H. Smith 1827 for Bison
R. Harlan 1825 for Bison latifrons  Fauna Americana: (Philadelphia: A. Finley). p. 273
                              J. Leidy 1852 for Bison antiquus  Proc., Acad. of Nat. Sci. of Philadelphia, Vol. 6, p. 117

Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Chordata
        Class: Mammalia
             Order: Artiodactyla (Even-toed hoofed animals: includes pigs, sheep goats, cattle, deer)
                  Family: Bovidae (Cattle, water buffalo, bison, antelopes, goats, sheep and more)
                           Genus: Bison
                                  Species: Bison priscus (extinct Steppe 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)
Taxonomic History and Nomenclature

*How Do We Know This? Scientists use knowledge of the earth's rocks, global plate
tectonic movements, and the chemical process of fossilization to make sense of fossil distribution
patterns and ancient habitats.

(McDonald 1981)


*How Do We Know This? Careful study of fossil bone or tooth anatomy yields much exact
information about placement and strength of muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and blood
vessels. In rare cases, skin and hair impressions or actual skin or hair is preserved.
Body weight is more difficult to gauge because fat leaves no impression on the skeleton.

(Anderson 1984) (Geist 1971) (Guthrie 1966) (Meagher 1986) (McDonald 1981)

Estimated Body Weight: B. latifrons: estimated 1024 kg (lb) for a male
                                       B. antiquus: estimated only slightly lighter than B. latifrons

Shoulder Height:             B. latifrons: 231 cm (8 ft)
                                        B. antiquus: 210 cm (6.9 ft)

Head + Body Length:      B. latifrons: 475 cm (15.6 ft)
                                       B. antiquus: estimated slightly smaller than B. latifrons

General Description

Teeth Pelage Sexual Dimorphism Other Physical Characteristics

*How Do We Know This? Since direct observation of a fossil animal's behavior isn't possible,
paleontologists use comparison and contrast with living animals for guidance. Tracks can
sometimes reveal further clues.

(Geist 1999) (McDonald 1981)

Social Life

Interspecies Interaction

*How Do We Know This? Clues to fossil mammals' diets come from not only teeth, but also
skull shape, amount of space indicated by bones for a stomach and guts, from fossil dung and gut
contents, from lab analysis of oxygen isotopes in bone and teeth, and by looking at diets of
similar modern animals.

(McDonald 1981)

*How do We Know This? Isotope studies of elements present fossil bones and tusks in
microscopic quantities give information about timing of reproductive stress, and timing of nursing.
Clues to stages of development come from tooth replacement patterns and closure of sutures
in skull and limb bones.

(Duffield 1973)(Guthrie 1990) (Jefferson 1989)

Life Stages


*How do We Know This? Abnormalities in fossils bones may show
evidence of arthritis, cancer, nutritional stress, fractures and more.

(McDonald 1981) (Morrow 2006) (Fisher 2001) (Jefferson and Goldin 1989)

Important Web Resources (including where to view fossils in museums):

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