After more than six decades, Bo the Bison, which has been prominently displayed at the Badlands Historical Centre, is heading to a new home.
Bo’s official name is Bison antiquus occidentalis. His partial skeleton was discovered in an abandoned strip mine near Taber, Alberta, in May of 1957. After it was excavated it came to Drumheller.
Louise Henrickson, chair of Badlands Historical Museum, said the board has been actively looking for a more suitable home for the bison.
At the time of discovery in the 1950s, the Badlands Historical Museum was only dinosaur museum in Alberta.
The board reached out to Taber because it was discovered in that area. However, they found a more suitable home at Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park in Siksika Nation.
Last Wednesday, a crew from Blackfoot Crossing came and picked up the specimen. This was the first time, since it was originally displayed, that its case had been opened.
“Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park has the capability to store the items, and eventually we will put it on display. We have a whole exhibit dedicated to the bison,” said museum manager Sasheen Wright.
Blackfoot Crossing is the historic site of the signing of Treaty No. 7, and is a world-renowned cultural, educational and entertainment centre built for the promotion and preservation of the Siksika Nation peoples' language, culture and traditions.
It has an impressive collection, including Chief Crowfoot's regalia, which was repatriated from the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery in Exeter, England where it has been since 1878.
Bo may be the oldest artifact it has in its collection.
According to a paper prepared by Frank Hadfield of Dinosaur Valley Studios, the find could be the earliest known evidence for man in Alberta.
According to the account by Hadfield, it was excavated by L.A. Blaycock and J.F. Jones, who were geologists from the Alberta Research Council. It was found in alluvium (sand and clay of river origin) deposited in an oxbow lake of the ancestral Oldman River.
Bo is a mature male, and wood fragments in the same sands show it to be 10,000 to 11,000 years old. Alberta contemporaries, at that time, include the woolly mammoth, dire wolves and prehistoric equine.
It is most likely the ancestor of the Plains Buffalo. According to his research, it evolved in North America, probably from an isolated population of Bison antiquus that had its range restricted by the end of the ice age. As there was general continental warming and drying, the Bison antiquus became extinct, leaving the Bison antiquus occidentalis.
As the climate became cooler, Bison antiquus occidentalis became extinct.
What the find also cements, according to Hadfield, was evidence of early man. A stone artifact was found embedded in the braincase of the specimen. The stone shows evidence of use for battering. Because it was found where it could not have been deposited by a natural process, led him to conclude it is an artifact and indicates the animal could have been killed by man.