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ISU Idaho Museum of Natural History prehistoric bison skull to be transported to exhibit in South Dakota

May 7, 2018

Photo of Emrys with prehistoric bison skull
Photo of Howard Emry, right, and his wife, at the site where "Howie" was found in 1975.

POCATELLO – The Idaho State University Idaho Museum of Natural History will loan a large, prehistoric bison skull  to the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, South Dakota on May 12-13.

 The giant bison, scientific name Bison latifrons, is one of the many diverse, prehistoric fossils in the Idaho Museum of Natural History’s collections. The giant bison is the largest of all North American bison. It is about 8 feet at the shoulder and weighs about 4,400 pounds. The giant bison appears in fossil sediments in North America as early as 200,000 years ago and existed until about 20,000 years ago.

The giant bison skull is part of a partial skeleton that is housed  at the ISU Idaho Museum of Natural History and  will be transported to South Dakota.  The skeleton is a male and  is nicknamed “Howie” after Howard Emry, who found the specimen in 1975. The skeleton was excavated in 1975 by Emry, who is an amateur paleontologist who volunteered with the museum for more than 20 years.

The giant bison will be on display in South Dakota for a minimum of 10 years. This specimen and others in the IMNH collections have been used by national and international researchers to  answer and capture new information, such as DNA analysis.

“Our museum's tagline is Discovering Idaho, One Story at a Time,” said Mary Thompson, senior collections manager at the Museum of Natural History. “By lending this specimen to South Dakota, we can tell the story about what Idaho and North America were like 20,000 to 200,000 years ago.”

Transportation of the specimen will be done by Jim Mead and Presston Gabel.

For further information, contact Mead at jmead@mammothsite.org or Gabel at presstong@mammtohsite.org, or contact the Idaho Museum of Natural History at 208-282-3168.