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Extinct Long-horned Bison & Ancient Bison (Bison latifrons and B. antiquus) Fact Sheet: Summary

Extinct Long-horned Bison & Ancient Bison (Bison latifrons and B. antiquus)

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Disclaimer: Fact sheets on prehistoric (extinct) species contain archived content and are no longer being updated. At the time of publication, these pages summarized the best available science. However, some content may become outdated as scientists report new discoveries.

Extinct Long-horned Bison & Ancient Bison (Bison latifrons and B. antiquus) Fact Sheet

Extinct Long-horned Bison & Ancient Bison
Long-horned Bison (Bison latifrons) and Ancient Bison (B. antiquus)

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.
*How Do We Know This? Like living animals, fossil remains of once-living animals are
classified and grouped according to their relationships to each other and to their ancestors.
Taxonomy Physical Characteristics

Describer (Date):
Bison latifrons: R. Harlan 1825
Bison antiquus: J. Leidy 1852

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Artiodactyla

Family: Bovidae

Subfamily: Bovinae

Genus: Bison

Species: Bison latifrons - Long-horned bison
Species: Bison antiquus - Ancient bison

Body Weight:
Bison latifrons: 1024 kg (2257 lb)
Bison antiquus: slightly lighter

Head/Body Length:
B. latifrons: 475 cm (15.6 ft)
B. antiquus: slightly shorter

Shoulder Height:
B. latifrons: 231 cm (8 ft)
B. antiquus: 210 cm (6.9 ft)

B. latifrons assumed to have less facial hair than B. antiquus (longer horns = less hair)

B. latifrons: Horn cores span 1.4 - 2.2 m (4.7 -7.3 ft)
B. antiquus: Horn cores span 1 m (3.3 ft)

Distribution & Status Behavior & Ecology

B. latifrons: United States, especially coastal California, Great Plains, Texas coastal plains, Florida
B. antiquus: North America, mainly south-western U.S., but also Canada, Mexico and Central America

B. latifrons: forest/woodlands
B. antiquus: open woodlands or savanna

Locomotion: High shoulder blades and tall spines on neck vertebrae allow bison to move front limbs in a long, extremely efficient gallop.

Social Groups:
B. latifrons: Somewhat solitary; possibly territorial; perhaps lifestyle like modern moose.

B. antiquus: Small groups or herds with stronger dominance behavior by males than seen in B. latifrons.

B. latifrons: An eye-level browser; small trees and shrubs
B. antiquus: Low-growing herbs, shrubs,grasses.

Predators: American lions (Panthera atrox), possibly sabertoothed cats (Smilodon), and dire wolves (Canis dirus).

Reproduction & Development Species Highlights
Longevity: Estimated around 14-16 years at age when enamel on molars completely worn.

Feature Facts

  • Bison survived into modern times when the Late Pleistocene extinctions claimed many other large mammals and birds.

About This Fact Sheet

© 2009 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

How to cite: Extinct Long-horned Bison & Ancient Bison (Bison latifrons and B. antiquus) Fact Sheet. c2009. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. extinctlong-hornedancientbison.
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Sep 10)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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