10000 year old Yukagir bison mummy gives Anatomy, physiology, genetics details of modern bison

A bison mummy, which was nearly perfectly preserved for almost 10,000 and discovered in 2011 will finally be giving some answers to the science community as to why the species went extinct. Members of a tribe called the Yukagir in the northern portions of Siberia were the ones who discovered the nearly perfectly preserved creature 3 years ago.

This particular species, called the Steppe Bison, is an ancestor of the modern bison that are still living today in the northern plains states, in North America – as well as parts of northern Europe. The animal was brought to the Yakutian Academy of Sciences, which is located in Siberia.


Once the animal had arrived – which was confirmed to be as well-preserved as the original prediction – plans were made to perform an autopsy. Ultimately, working toward answering the question why this particular animal died, but more specifically – learning why the entire species could have gone extinct – as it did.

Other Steppe Bison discoveries have been made throughout the years. However, none have been this well-preserved. The scientists noted that for an animal to have the internal organs as in-tact, as they were, was something of a natural miracle. Ultimately though, the extreme cold temperatures were the reasoning for this preservation. Olga Potapova, a manager at the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs in South Dakota assisted on the project, and noted that “Normally, what you find with the mummies of megafauna in North America or Siberia is partial carcasses. They’re partly eaten or destroyed because they’re lying in the permafrost for tens of thousands of years.”

What the scientists found upon further inspection and the autopsy was that the creature died of starvation. They found that other than missing a layer of fat from near the surface of the animal – that the rest of the animal was still really well-preserved. They noted that some of the organs did shrink over time, but mostly, things were all there that should have been there when the animal was alive. The brain was even in such good condition that researchers sent that away to do further research on that, too.

The scientists went on to say and close by noting that “Anatomy, physiology, and genetics – these give us very good information to construct the bison’s habitat, behavior and style of life. If we get all this information, we’ll be able to pin down the real reasons for the extinction of the species.”