Bison Antiquus Facts
The modern day North American Bison has an extinct direct ancestor called the
Bison Antiquus, often referred to as the "antique Bison". When they roamed North
America, they were the most common large herbivore on the entire continent where
they held that title for more than 10 thousand years. Although there is no definite answer as to why these animals went extinct, some research teams who study these
animals believe that what caused their extinction was not hunting, but
climate change. The below information gives interesting facts in a list format
which is easily readable for both kids and adults.
Bison Antiquus General Facts
- The Bison Antiquus is of Asian origin and was believed to have come to North
America by means of natural land bridges during the ice age, about 200,000 years
- Common predators of the Bison Antiquus included the now extinct Saber Tooth Tiger, the African Lion, and Dire Wolves.
- They traveled in herds, grazing at every opportunity. Grass and leaves were
staples in the Bison Antiquus diet.
- Because their habitat often had heavy snow on the ground during the winter months, the
Bison Antiquus would use their big heads to their advantage. They would push away
the snow with their heads to get to the underlying grass. They would also eat the
snow to keep them hydrated.
Bison Antiquus Descriptive Facts
- The massive body of the Bison Antiquus averaged about 15.6 feet (4.75 meters) in length, it's
horn span was approximately 3.2 feet (1 meter) and it weighed approximately 5,000
pounds (2267 kilograms).
- The Bison Antiquus differed from modern day bison. They were at least 15-25% larger than modern day bison and had longer and thicker fur which kept them well insulated during the harsh winters of the past.
- The main purpose of the large and strong horns of this extinct mammal was for protection from other animals.
Bison Antiquus Interesting Facts
- The remains of the Bison Antiquus are most commonly found in California's La Brea tar pits. The tar pits appeared to be an appealing wetland to all sorts of animals.
Once lured to the tar pits, the bison, and other animals were trapped in a sticky layer of tar that was hidden under a shallow layer of water.
- During the ice age, the Bison Antiquus were hunted by Native Americans for their
skin which they would use for clothing and shelter, their flesh which they used for food, and their horns which they used for tools.
- The Bison Antiquus fared much better if they were born in the warmer months, as
most of them were. The cold winter months were much too harsh for the calves and
the food was scarce. They would often not survive during this
- With winter temperatures plummeting to -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit), the Bison Antiquus
would conserve their energy so they could make it through the cold winter months by actually slowing down their metabolic rate by 25 percent.