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How Do We Know This?
Since direct observation of a fossil animal's behavior isn't possible, paleontologists use comparison and contrast with living animals for guidance. Tracks can sometimes reveal further clues.
- Bison latifrons: Very large horns signaled fitness to potential mates as well as serving to ward off predators (Geist 1996)
- B. latifrons may have been more solitary than B. antiquus (McDonald 1981)
- Forest habitats/woodland habitats with limited resources wouldn't support large populations of large herbivores
- Vocalizations would have been an important means for mate-finding in somewhat closed habitats
- May have had life-style similar to modern moose
- B. antiquus had stronger herding and more complex social behavior than B. latifrons (McDonald 1981)
- B. latifrons may have engaged in dominance and fighting behavior characterized by hooking, not butting (McDonald 1981)
- Larger horns have curvature that places tips above frontal bones of skull
- Foreheads are flattened rather than domed (domed-head modern bison are fortified against head-butting)
- Bison antiquus fighting behavior probably characterized by more head to head impacts
- Bison latifrons probably used sheer size a deterrent for predators
- No evidence for hunting by humans
- Bison antiquus probably used flight as a predator defense
- Bison antiquus shared the grassland environments with horses, camels, giant ground sloths, and mammoths
SDZWA Library Links
Fact Sheet Index
Fact sheet index, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Library
Home page, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Library
Email the librarians at firstname.lastname@example.org