Mammoth Site scientists help study rare bison
HOT SPRINGS (AP) -- Two scientists with the Mammoth Site in southwestern South Dakota have spent much of the last three years helping a team of Russian scientists study a 9,300-year-old bison found in eastern Siberia.
HOT SPRINGS (AP) - Two scientists with the Mammoth Site in southwestern South Dakota have spent much of the last three years helping a team of Russian scientists study a 9,300-year-old bison found in eastern Siberia.
Researchers Olga Potapova and Larry Agenbroad and the Russian team have focused on the mummy known now as the Yukagir Bison, the Rapid City Journal reported. Potapova and Agenbroad contributed to the analysis from South Dakota until this past spring when Potapova traveled to Russia to perform a necropsy.
Scientists have estimated that the bison was more than 5 feet tall at the shoulders and weighed up to 1,300 pounds. Its intact incisor teeth have led researchers to believe that it died when it was about 4 years old. Potapova said that at that age, the Yukagir Bison would have been roughly the same size and statute of a 6-year-old American bison in terms of weight, height at the shoulders and width between the tips of horns.
"It showed some similarities to the modern American bison," Potapova said. "It's big for its age."
Potapova says the massive creature probably died of starvation, judging by the lack of fat reserves in the abdomen and neck areas.
"There were no injuries found on this bison, so it wasn't killed by predators," said Potapova, who is originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, and has been studying mammals at the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs since 2001.
Potapova said this bison is unique in that from the hooves to the horns everything is complete. She added that predators typically would have eaten parts like the lips, ears, and tail, but that wasn't the case with the Yukagir Bison.
The bison mummy is being stored in a deep-freeze facility in Russia. The Mammoth Site and the National Park Service are working together to eventually bring the mummy to the U.S.
Agenbroad died earlier this year. The newspaper reported that his work was key in determining whether the creature was in fact a bison.