John Vonderlin: 1868 Bison Skull Found Near Pilarcitos Reservoir

Story from John Vonderlin

Email John (benloudman@sbcglobal.net)

Hi June,
   This is an excerpt from an article entitled “The Earliest Residents of California,” from the November 8th, 1868 issue of “The Daily Alta.”
 
Several years ago we mentioned the fact that Calvin Brown, Esq., while superintending, as engineer, the construction of the Pilarcitos reservoir of the Spring Valley Water Company, had found the skull of a very large animal of the bovine character. It was sent for examination and classification to Dr. Leidy of the Philadelphia Academy of Sciences, one of the first paleontologists of the age, and he, in acknowledging its receipt, says:  “It is a more perfect specimen than any I had previously seen of the skull of the great extinct American bison. which I had named “bison antiquarus,” the contemporary of the mastodon, and the great extinct sloths, the megalonyx, and mylodon. The specimen in its present position is (certainly?) a favor (???) one for interest of all who are interested in paleontological sciences.”
Wikipedia has this article about this species of buffalo;
Bison antiquus sometimes called the ancient bison, was the most common large herbivore of the North Americancontinent for over ten thousand years, and is a direct ancestor of the living American bison.
During the Pleistocene Ice Agesteppe wisent (Bison priscus), migrated from Siberia into Alaska. This species then developed into the long-horned bison (Bison latifrons) which lived in North America for 3 million years. About 22 Tya, the long-horned bison slowly died out making way for Bison antiquusB. antiquus were abundant from 18 Tya until about 10Tya, when they became extinct, along with most of the Pleistocene megafaunaB. antiquus is the most commonly recovered herbivore from the La Brea tar pits.
B. antiquus was taller, had larger bones and horns and was 15-25% larger overall than modern bison. From tip to tip, the horns of B. antiquus measured approximately 3 feet (nearly one meter).
  
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About June Morrall

1947 - 2010
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