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An ancient bison from the mouth of the Rauchua River (Chukotka, Russia)

  • Irina V. Kirillova (a1), Oksana G. Zanina (a2), Olga F. Chernova (a3), Elena G. Lapteva (a4), Svetlana S. Trofimova (a4), Vladimir S. Lebedev (a5), Alexei V. Tiunov (a3), Andre E.R. Soares (a6), Fedor K. Shidlovskiy (a1) and Beth Shapiro (a6) (a7)...

An incomplete carcass of an extinct bison, Bison ex gr. priscus, was discovered in 2012 in the mouth of the Rauchua River (69°30′N, 166°49′E), Chukotka. The carcass included the rump with two hind limbs, ribs, and large flap of hide from the abdomen and sides, several vertebrae, bones of the forelimbs and anterior autopodia, stomach with its contents, and wool. The limb bones are relatively gracile, which is unusual in bison, and a SEM study of the hair microstructure suggests higher insulating capacity than in extant members of the genus. Additionally, mitochondrial DNA analyses indicate that the Rauchua bison belonged to a distinct and previously unidentified lineage of steppe bison. Two radiocarbon dates suggest a Holocene age for the bison: a traditional 14C date provided an estimate of 8030 ± 70 14C yr ВР (SPb-743) and an AMS radiocarbon date provided an age of 9497 ± 92 14C yr BP (AA101271). These dates make this the youngest known bison from Chukotka. Analysis of stomach contents revealed a diet of herbaceous plants (meadow grasses and sedges) and shrubs, suggesting that the early Holocene vegetation near the mouth of the Rauchua River was similar to that of the present day: tundra-associated vegetation with undersized plants.

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