Description The Long-Horned Bison was similar to the modern day American bison, except much larger (25-50% larger). This animal is one of the largest of the ruminants (hoofed grazing animals like cows, goats, and deer with specialized stomachs), only rivaled by the modern day giraffe and an ancient buffalo, Pelorovis, in size. The most distinct feature of this animal is its massive horns, which could reach 84 inches tip to tip. A modern day bison only has horns that span around 26 inches.
Diet The Long Horned Bison could both graze (eat low vegetation like grasses) and browse (eat woody vegetation like shrubs). This is more varied than the modern day bison who is only a grazer.
Behavior It is expected that Long Horned Bison lived in small family groups, smaller groups than the large herds that modern bison live in today. Scientists reference the modern day moose as an analogous creature in terms of behavior as a woodland dwelling animal with large horns. The distinctive large horns of bison are believed to have been used to intimidate predators of the time, and to aid males when competing for mates.
Distribution and Habitat Long Horned Bison usually inhabited warmer climates. In North America, this included areas now known today as California, the Great Plains, Texas, and Florida, with a few reports in Canada. It is believed that Bison existed as early as 500,000 years ago, including during the Sangamon Interglacial period, the warmer period 120,000 years ago where many of the fossils at Ziegler reservoir originated from.
The first Long Horned Bison fossil discovered was in Kentucky in 1803.
The bison remains found at Ziegler reservoir are the highest elevation occurrence of the bison recorded to-date.