Paleo Bison
  #0043

 

Paleo Bison: 1/20 scale, one piece cast with the tail and horns separate. Included is a simulated terrain base with clearly marked footprints for easy positioning as well as a contoured pine base for display. The model comes unpainted easy to assemble with a minimum amount of preparatory cleanup before being ready to paint. All Paleo Bison models are hand cast with Por-A-Kast resin at The Alchemy Works.

Paleo Bison Now available through The Alchemy Works

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Paleo Bison(Bison latifrons)

Order: Artiodactyla

Family: Bovidae

Nearly 75 percent of all the megafauna that existed in North America disappeared from the face of the continent at the close of the last ice age. Bison, or buffalo, as they are more commonly but incorrectly known, were the exception. They not only held on during the mass extinction but also thrived in vast herds to become North America's largest extant land mammal.

The term "buffalo" evolved over time from the descriptions of early French explorers. Modern bison (Bison bison) were perceived as resembling oxen and cattle and were so dubbed "les boeufs," meaning 'oxen'. Also terms such as "boeuf sauvage" ('wild steer'), "buffe," "buffle," and "buffelo" appear frequently throughout the explorers' journals. Bison roamed North America in large numerous herds. Populations are believed to have peaked at a number between 40 and 60 million and at one time ranged from Mexico to southern New England. Bison coexisted with the native people of North America for thousands of years, and it wasn't until the 1830s, when European settlers started to expand westward, that the bison's existence became seriously threatened. Between 1830 and 1880, bison became the target of large-scale extermination and were nearly driven extinct by the turn of the twentieth century, at which time only an estimated 300 wild bison remained.

Bison are believed to have evolved from a tropical and subtropical species of Bovidae that lived in the extreme south of Asia millions of years before the Ice Age. More recently, the ancestors of the American bison species have been traced back through fossilized bones and are believed to have originated during the Pliocene epoch some 400,000 years ago. During that time, several different species of Bison evolved and adapted independently to varying climates, vegetation changes, and predators as well as the presence of humans. It wasn't until the Pleistocene epoch that their descendants made the journey from Asia to North America by migrating across the existing land bridge between Siberia and Alaska. Such species include the modern bison, Bison bison; the small bison, Bison antiquus; the Eurasian steppe bison, Bison priscus; and the large broad-horned bison, Bison latifrons.

Bison latifrons was one of the first to make the journey out of Asia and was the largest of the known North American species of bison. They lived alongside other bison species until they went extinct some 25-30,000 years ago. Their fossils are scarce and are found only in late Pleistocene layers. A few fossils, including some toe bones and a broken horn core, have been retrieved from the infamous Rancho La Brea tar pits but are otherwise uncommon in that area.

Bison latifrons was an immense animal, standing as much as 8 1/2 feet at the shoulder. They would have been very similar to modern bison in appearance, only larger, with their most distinct feature being a long set of curved horns that protruded outward from the skull and gently arced upwards. Their unique horn spreads are known to have spanned as much as 6 feet tip to tip and possibly longer. They would have been sexually distinguishable by their appearance. The males were larger and more robust, whereas the females were smaller and sported a more slender set of horns.

Like modern bison, Bison latifrons probably had a very similar life style and behavior. They were herbivores and probably lived on ancient prairie lands in large free-roaming herds. They were very strong and fast and would have been ferociously agile when defending themselves or their calves from predators such as wolves, bears, or saber-toothed cats. Bison latifrons may have had relatively poor eyesight with acute hearing and a keen sense of smell, which is also characteristic of modern bison.

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