Scientists Discover Incredibly Well-Preserved 9,000-Year-Old Bison Mummy

| by Jonathan Wolfe

Researchers announced the necropsy results for a 9,000-year-old Bison this week.

The bison, a steppe bison to be specific, lived an estimated 9,000 years ago during the Holocene epoch. When researchers stumbled upon the frozen body in 2011, they quickly realized how remarkably well-preserved its corpse was.

The freezing conditions in which the animal was preserved for the last 9,000 years allowed researchers to perform a number of tests on its brain and body. Detailed scans of the bison’s brain and organs were done, and numerous well-preserved samples were extracted from its skin and digestive tract.

Researcher Olga Potapova says the specimen will go a long way in helping scientists learn how the steppe bison went extinct.

"Anatomy, physiology, genetics these give us very good information to construct the bison's habitat, behavior and style of life," Potapova told Live Science. "If we get all this information, we'll be able to pin down the real reasons for the extinction of the species."

She says the frozen body is among the most well-preserved bison samples ever found.

“Normally, what you find with the mummies of megafauna in North America or Siberia is partial carcasses; they're partly eaten or destroyed because they're lying in the permafrost for tens of thousands of years," Potapova told Live Science. "But the mummy was preserved so well that it [earned] a record for the level of its preservation."

Potapova and her team will be publishing their findings from the bison in the upcoming edition of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Sources: Live Science, Smithsonian

Photo credit: Live Science