This is a North American Plains Bison drawn in pen-and-ink and colour-pencil in 1982. I used an image in a ladybird nature hardback for reference and rendered it in my own style.
I have set a slideshow directly beneath the featured image containing twelve bison images. They are listed as follows:
American Bison bison
European Bison bonascus
Bison Full of Fodder
Ancestor & Descendant
Black ‘n’ White Mode
Lookin’ at Me, Pal?
The American bison [Bison bison], also commonly known as the American buffalo, is a North American species of bison that once roamed the grasslands of North America in massive herds, became nearly extinct by a combination of commercial hunting and slaughter in the 19th century and introduction of bovine diseases from domestic cattle, and has made a recent resurgence largely restricted to a few national parks and reserves. Their historical range roughly comprised a triangle between the Great Bear Lake in Canada’s far northwest, south to the Mexican states of Durango and Nuevo León, and east to the Atlantic Seaboard of the United States (nearly to the Atlantic tidewater in some areas) from New York to Georgia and per some sources down to Florida.
Two subspecies or ecotypes have been described: the plains bison (Bison bison bison), smaller in size and with a more rounded hump, and the wood bison (Bison bison athabascae)—the larger of the two and having a taller, square hump. Furthermore, it has been suggested that the plains bison consists of a northern [Bison bison montanae] and a southern subspecies, bringing the total to three However, this is generally not supported. The wood bison is one of the largest wild species of bovid in the world, surpassed by only the Asian gaur and wild water buffalo. It is the largest extant land animal in the Americas.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Dave Draper, May 2014
Bison are large, even-toed ungulates in the genus Bison within the subfamily Bovinae.
There are two extant and four extinct species recognized. Of the four extinct species, three were North American: Bison antiquus, B. latifrons, and B. occidentalis. The fourth, Bison priscus, ranged across steppe environments from Western Europe, through Central Asia, and onto North America.
There are two surviving species: the American bison, Bison bison, found only in North America, is the most numerous. Although sometimes referred to as a buffalo, it is only distantly related to the true buffalo. The North American species is composed of two subspecies, the plains bison, Bison bison bison, and the wood bison, Bison bison athabascae, which is the namesake of Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada. The European bison Bison bonasus, or wisent is found in Europe and the Caucasus, re-introduced after being extinct in the wild.
While all bison species are usually grouped into their own genus, they are sometimes included in the closely related genus Bos, together with cattle, gaur, kouprey and yaks, with which bison have a limited ability to interbreed.
Evolution and genetic history.
The bovine family [Taurids and Bisonids] diverged from the common ancestral line with water buffalo and African buffalo about 5 to 10 million years ago. Thereafter, the family lineage of bison and taurine cattle does not appear to be a straightforward ‘tree’ structure as is often depicted in much evolution, because there is evidence of interbreeding and crossbreeding between different species and members within this family, even many millions of years after their ancestors separated into different species. This crossbreeding was not sufficient to conflate the different species back together, but it has resulted in unexpected relationships between many members of this group, such as yak being related to American bison, when such relationships would otherwise not be apparent.
A 2003 study of mitochondrial DNA indicated four distinct maternal lineages in tribe Bovini:
Taurine cattle and zebu
American bison and yak
Banteng, gaur, and gayal.
However, Y chromosome analysis associated wisent and American bison. An earlier study using amplified fragment length polymorphism [AFLP] fingerprinting showed a close association of wisent and American bison and probably with yak, but noted that the interbreeding of Bovini species made determining relationships problematic.
The Steppe bison [Bison priscus] diverged from the lineage that led to cattle [Bos taurus] approximately 2 to 5 million years ago. The Bison genus is clearly in the fossil record by 2 million years ago. The Steppe bison spread across Eurasia and was the bison that was pictured in the ancient cave drawings of Spain and Southern France.
The European bison or wisent arose from the Steppe bison, without fossil evidence of other ancestral species between the Steppe bison and the European bison, though the European bison might have arisen from the lineage that led to American bison if that lineage backcrossed with the Steppe bison. Again, the web of relationships is confusing, but there is some evidence that the European bison is descended from bison that had migrated from Asia to North America, and then back to Europe, where they crossbred with existing Steppe bison.
At one point, some Steppe bison crossbred with the ancestors of the modern yak. After that crossbreeding, a population of Steppe bison [Bison priscus] crossed the Bering Land Bridge to North America. There is evidence of multiple crossings of bison to and from Asia starting before 500,000 years ago and continuing until at least 220,000 years ago. The Steppe bison spread through the northern parts of North America and lived in Eurasia until approximately 11,000 years ago and North America until 4,000 to 8,000 years ago.
Bison latifrons [the ‘giant’ or ‘longhorn’ bison] is thought to have evolved in midcontinent North America from B. priscus, after the Steppe bison crossed into North America.
Giant bison [Bison latifrons] appeared in the fossil record approximately 500,000 years ago. B. latifrons was one of many species of North American megafauna which became extinct during the transition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene epoch [an event referred to as the Quaternary extinction event]. It is thought to have disappeared some 21,000–30,000 years ago, during the late Wisconsin glaciation.
The Bison latifrons species was replaced by the smaller Bison antiquus. B. antiquus appeared in the North American fossil record approximately 250,000 years ago. B. antiquus in turn evolved into the Bison occidentalis, then into the yet smaller Bison bison — the modern American bison — some 5,000 to 10,000 years ago. Some researchers consider B. occidentalis to be a sub-species of B. antiquus.
Evolution and genetic history
During the population bottleneck, after the great slaughter of American bison during the nineteenth century, the number of bison remaining alive in North America declined to as low as 541. During that period, a handful of ranchers gathered remnants of the existing herds to save the species from extinction. These ranchers bred some of the bison with cattle in an effort to produce cattleo [today called beefalo] Accidental crossings were also known to occur.
Generally, male domestic bulls were crossed with buffalo cows, producing offspring of which only the females were fertile. The crossbred animals did not demonstrate any form of hybrid vigor, so the practice was abandoned. The proportion of cattle DNA that has been measured in introgressed individuals and bison herds today is typically quite low, ranging from 0.56 to 1.8%.
In the United States, many ranchers are now utilizing DNA testing to cull the residual cattle genetics from their bison herds. The U.S. National Bison Association has adopted a code of ethics which prohibits its members from deliberately crossbreeding bison with any other species.
Some cattle breeds are intentionally bred with bison to produce, for instance, beefalo hybrids. Wisent-American bison hybrids were briefly experimented with in Germany [and found to be fully fertile] and a herd of such animals is maintained in Russia all the time. A herd of cattle-wisent crossbreeds [Zubron] is maintained in Poland. First-generation crosses do not occur naturally, requiring caesarean delivery. First-generation males are infertile.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Dave Draper 2014