Valley Fever fungal infection (Coccidioides) recognized in Bison antiquus from Nebraska.
- Fungal organisms visible in stained thin sections of fossil bone from lower jaw
- Lesions in bone similar to those in modern cattle infected with coccidioidomycosis
- This pathogen isn't found in Nebraska today but is in arid parts of California, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and northern Mexico.
- Researchers hypothesize Valley Fever fungus either once occupied a wider geographic area or, that bison migrated between Nebraska and areas to the south where the pathogen did live.
Many abnormalities observed in fossils of B. antiquus (McDonald 1981)
- Most abnormalities are in the skull and horns
- Teeth also affected; exhibit malformation, overcrowding, poor orientation
- Most abnormalities occur in fossils dated between 11,000 and 9,000 years ago
- This pattern likely due to inbreeding in small isolated populations experiencing intense human hunting pressure
A 20,000 year-old fossil deposit at Natural Trap Cave in Wyoming had evidence of tuberculosis and other bone diseases (Rothschild & Martin 2003).
- Many Bison antiquus bones had osteoarthritis caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (identified by DNA).
- One bison had diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) - abnormal bone growth in the skeleton from unknown causes.