HomeOutdoorsNewsFossilized Skull of Extinct Ancient Bison Found On Missouri Riverbank: VIDEO

Fossilized Skull of Extinct Ancient Bison Found On Missouri Riverbank: VIDEO

by Brett Stayton
Ancient Bison Skull
Photo by Lucas Oleniuk/Getty Images

A fossilized ancient bison skull was recently discovered on the banks of the drought-stricken Missouri River. The skull could very likely be from an extinct ancestor to today’s bison herds. The ancient bison species went extinct roughly 10,000 years ago. Though it’s tough to determine, Melissa Eaton, from the Kansas City Archaeological Society, believes the skull is from the ancient species and not a modern-day bison. “It’s a great set of horns, a lovely top of the skull,” she said in an article in Newsweek. “Ten thousand years ago, Bison antiquus was a dominant species in this area.”

The ancient artifact was discovered by Mike Ruth and Dave Jamerson. They’re two local Kansas Citians. They regularly scavenge for interesting stuff along waterways in the area apparently. With unusually dry drought conditions impacting the Missouri River right now, they found the skull on a bank that’s typically underwater. The skull was full of silt, river mussels, and gravel like it had been submerged for a long time. “You could tell right away it was something really cool,” said Ruth.

The remarkable discovery would not have been possible without the unusually dry condition of the Missouri River this past year. The river was extraordinarily low for much of 2022. According to the official U.S. Drought Monitor, 90 percent of the Missouri River basin going through some form of abnormally dry conditions or drought.

More Informationa About Bison Antiquus

The ancient bison species were a good bit larger than modern bison. While bison today can get up to 6.6 feet high and weigh in at up to 2,800 pounds. Meanwhile, the ancient species grew up to more than 7 feet high and weighed as much as 3,500 pounds. According to the National Park Service, they also had longer horns. Their bodies were also up to 15 feet long.

The species is an ancestor of modern-day bison. Herds of ancient bison marched over to North America from Eurasia about 220,000 to 250,000 years ago. The species migrating continents by crossing an ancient land bridge that connected Siberia to Alaska. So many ancient bison fossils were discovered in the upper Las Vegas valley that the area has been declared a National Monument. The Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument is full of commonly identifiable fossils from ancient bison including molar teeth, mandible, and limb bones. 

Given how long ago the species went extinct, this is considered to be an absolutely amazing specimen. The skull is almost fully intact and it’s very, very large by fossil standards. “It’s pretty remarkable,” Melissa Eaton said. “I would have been very excited to find this.”

Jamerson and Ruth are still trying to figure out what exactly to do with their phenomenal find. “Anybody could have found it,” Jamerson said. “I’m just lucky to be that guy.”