from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Male bison ( Bos bonasus ) in Białowieża National Park in Eastern Poland

The bison are wild cattle that are widespread in the northern hemisphere and were originally placed in their own genus bison . Today there are two representatives, the American bison ( Bos bison ) and the European bison ( Bos bonasus ). According to molecular genetic studies, however, the two species do not form a common group. The late Latin word bison is probably a borrowing from the Germanic word wisund .

Development history

Bos ( bison ) antiquus became extinct about 10,000 years ago. This specimen comes from the La Brea natural asphalt pits in Los Angeles.

A cattle of the genus Leptobos is considered to be the forerunner of the ancient bison ( Bos sivalensis ) . The Eurasian primitive bison continued to develop as it spread from northern India to the west and in the vast Asian steppes to become the steppe bison ( Bos priscus ), also known as the steppe bison. An approximately 35,000 year old specimen was found in 1979 by a gold panner near Fairbanks , Alaska . It went down in research history with the name Blue Babe because when it was recovered, the skin turned blue due to a chemical reaction with the air. The mountain wisent ( Bos caucasicus ), which is now extinct, also developed in the Caucasus .

The steppe bison was hunted by the people of the Cro-Magnon period and recorded in cave drawings, see the cave paintings of Altamira , Lascaux and Chauvet , before it died out at the end of the last ice age .

Skull of Bos latifrons

Bison originated in Eurasia. The steppe bison crossed the land bridge between Siberia and Alaska (today's Bering Strait ) during the Ice Age (early to mid- Pleistocene ) and colonized the northernmost parts of North America . Several species developed from it, which conquered the southern parts of the continent in two successive waves of immigration . The first was the giant long-horned Bos latifrons , which immigrated to America in the early or mid-Pleistocene and became extinct in the late Pleistocene about 20,000 years ago. The second consisted of bison forms, which already resembled today's species Bos bison . Sometimes the long-horned Bos antiquus and the somewhat shorter-horned form Bos occidentalis are regarded as separate species, other researchers also see them as subspecies of today's bison ( Bos bison ). In the early Holocene , almost 6000 years ago, today's short-horned subspecies of the bison, the prairie bison Bos bison bison and the forest bison Bos bison athabascae , developed and replaced the Pleistocene forms.

Today's American bison, which were almost extinct around 1890 , and European bison can be crossed without restriction, which suggests that both forms are closely related. Analyzes of the DNA showed, however, that bison and bison differ genetically in some cases greatly from one another. While bison and wisent have a strong similarity in the paternally inherited Y chromosomes , there are considerable differences in the sequence of the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA . In terms of mitochondrial DNA, the American bison forms a unit with the yak , while the bison is the same as the aurochs . A possible explanation for this would be that prehistoric bison bulls once crossed with relatives of the aurochs or their ancestors and thus gave birth to the ancestors of the bison. Overall, these studies suggest that the genera Bos and Bison are paraphyletic , they were subsequently merged into a single genus Bos .

Web links

Commons : Bisons  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files



  1. ^ Friedrich Kluge , Elmar Seebold : Etymological dictionary of the German language . 24th edition De Gruyter, Berlin 2002.
  2. ^ R. Dale Guthrie: Bos evolution and zoogeography in North America during the Pleistocene . In: The Quarterly Review of Biology , Vol. 45 (1970), No. 1, pp. 1-15, ISSN  0033-5770 .
  3. Alexandre Hassanin, Anne Ropiquet: Molecular phylogeny of the tribe Bovini (Bovidae, Bovinae) and the taxonomic status of the Kouprey, Bos sauveli "Urbain 1937". In: Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. Volume 33, Issue 3, 2004, pp. 896-907, doi: 10.1016 / j.ympev.2004.08.009 .