STL Science Center

STL Science Center

07 November 2017

Buffalo (Bison) Papers

Many descriptive papers have been published for Bison latifrons and B. antiquus. Bison occidentalis, however, does not have as many description papers published concerning its remains. There could be any number of reasons for this, but after looking over papers and fossil locations as well as the Paleobiology Database (PbDb: the major reason for this might be that some sources, at least, consider B. occidentalis to be a subjective synonym for B. antiquus. This means that the type of the two species is not a shared fossil and that the debate on their synonymy is open. Unresolved taxonomy like this can lead to some sources like the PbDbnot acknowledging the species as unique while others at the same time do still consider it a unique species, such as Hawley, et al. 2013 which describes the occurrence of B. occidentalis fossils throughout the Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The range of these species has always been an interesting topic for research descriptions and has proved fruitful as well. Representative ranges can be hypothesized for each with articles detailing discovery sites and discussing their significance to the ranges. For instance, B. latifrons has been described in South Dakota (see above), Kansas, Nebraska, and even Georgia. Bison antiquus has been described from remains found in Florida, Alberta, Canada (with a mention of B. occidentalis as well), Washington, and Southern California. Bison occidentalis has been described from sites in Iowa, Alberta, Canada, Texas, and California.

A lot of papers go beyond simple description of these three taxa. A large number of papers published about these papers are from archaeological journals, which is highly logical. Bison, regardless of species, have been some of, and eventually the absolute largest, herbivorous North American mammals encountered by humans. Their use as food, clothing, crafting sources, weapons, and fuel for fires is well documented in North American historical sources and from archaeological digs (as a reference read Agogino and Frankforter 1960 and Wheat 1967). Associations of bison with archaeology is to be expected and some of the articles detail not only interesting aspects of the animal's life histories (refer to this article on butchering and taphonomy as an example) but also a great deal about their capability to endure hardships both human inflicted and natural. These include descriptions of diseases that have been studied in B. antiquus as well the effects of hunting in B. occidentalis.

There are a lot of articles here today, but I cannot apologize for the rich literary record of bison research; nor would I want to if I was asked to honestly.

No comments:

Post a Comment