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American BisonA Natural History$
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Dale Lott, Jan van Wagtendonk, and Kevin Shaffer

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780520233386

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520233386.001.0001

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Ancestors and Relatives

Ancestors and Relatives

(p.60) (p.61) Chapter 7 Ancestors and Relatives
American Bison

Dale F. Lott

University of California Press

Every species has a history, and that history is a part of the species as much as an individual's history is a part of the individual. It both creates and limits the species' possibilities. This chapter, on ancestors and relatives, traces the bison lineage, especially in North America, and establishes the place of the modern species Bison bison, which emerged only about 5,000 years ago. The first bison to cross Beringia were not the first bison. Bison branched off from the primitive cow family line — Leptobos — about a million years ago. The first bison were small-bodied, small-horned, fast-moving residents of forest edges and meadows. Gradually, the bison line became northern specialists, able to live where other cattle couldn't. They also became open grassland specialists.

Keywords:   bison history, Bison bison, bison lineage, North America, Leptobos

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