Barren ground musk oxen became evident in the fossil record of North America nearly
a half million years ago, and they remain active members of the arctic region
today. Although once hunted to near extinction, the herds in Alaska, Canada, and
Greenland now number about 100,000.
Symbos cavifrons (Bootherium bombifroms)
woodland musk ox first appeared in North America before the expansion of the Wisconsinan
ice sheet and remained into the early Holocene. It, like many other Pleistocene
animals, became extinct about 10,000 years ago.
The ancestral bison, Bison priscus, entered North America through Beringia
(the Bering Straits land
bridge) during the Illinoian glaciation, 200,000 to 120,000 years ago. Descendants
from this migration gave rise to a giant bison, Bison latifrons, standing
more than eight feet at the shoulder and with horns spanning six feet, which survived
into Wisconsinan time. Before the end of the Sangamon interglacial period, about
100,000 years ago, a new stock of Bison priscus moved south from Beringia.
These developed, in stages, during the Wisconsinan time, into the two bison subspecies
that still live in North America, the plains bison and the wood bison. This skull
represents one of the large, intermediate stages of an extinct subspecies, Bison
skull has been tentatively identified as belonging to a stag-moose, a large moose-like
member of the deer family. Much like the modern moose, it inhabited muskegs (cool,
wet, marshy areas).
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