MEMPHIS MOMENTS
5:48 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Bison Fossils from the Mid-South

Bison Antiquus
Bison Antiquus
Credit WikiMedia Commons

Bison roamed the Mid-South for thousands of years, and their remains can be found in sand and gravel bars throughout our region. 


From Richardson’s Landing, TN, to Greenville, MS, the sand and gravel bars of the Mississippi cut through old sediments in the riverbed and along its banks, exposing the fossil remains of ancient bison that roamed the Mid-South at least 10,000 years ago. These ancestors of modern bison stood almost seven feet tall at the shoulder and weighed around 2000 pounds.

Bison antiquus, or the ancient bison, arrived in North America around 250,000 years ago from Eastern Asia. They eventually ranged from Florida to Oregon. Around 10,000 years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age, they disappeared from the Mid-South, finally dying out completely around 5,000 years ago.

Thanks to the efforts of a group of amateur geologists, the Pink Palace is home to several ancient bison fossils from the Mid-South. John Conaway and a group of friends collected fossils from the banks and sandbars of the Mississippi River for years. Recognizing the significance of their finds for research into the Ice Age in our region, they donated their collection to the museum.

To learn more about our region's history, visit the Pink Palace Family of Museums.