BISON, AMERICAN

Under Construction May 2011

AMERICAN BISON

Bison bison

GUARD HAIR

Length: 60 mm maximum (Mayer 1952), 80-90mm (Adorjan and Kolenosky 1969), 30-160mm (Moore et al 1974), 80-90mm (ASM #1)

Diameter Range: Max 110 microns (Mayer 1952), 60-110 microns (Moore et al 1974), 75- 90 microns (ASM #1)

Medullary Index: 0.38 (ASM #1)

Medulla: Approximately 35 microns in diameter. Can be off-center. Present, continuous and black in transmitted light (indicating that it is air-filled) difficult to see any features (ASM #1)

Color: Brown

Scales: Scales have closely spaced margins and are very jagged with the torn paper-like edges. The scales are consistent from the proximal to distal end. (ASM #1)

 

UNDERFUR

Length: 20-30mm (ASM #1)

Diameter Range: 8-16 microns (Furskin 2006), 30-35 microns (ASM #1)

Medullary Index: No medulla

Medulla: No medulla

Color: Brown longitudinal striations of various thickness, denser near the cuticle (ASM #1)

Scales: Stacked crowns

Macro Qualities: Animal can be 6.5 -12.5 feet long (Forsyth 1999)  Full grown bull wood bison are up to 10 feet long, but plains bison are somewhat smaller.  Newborns have a reddish orange coat until about 10-15 weeks of age.  Adult bison has a dark brown coat in late fall that gets lighter over the winter and is shed in late spring  (ADF&G 2009) Hair might be coiled like a spring, helix in shape (Moore et al 1974)

Cultures:

Notes: ASM #1 is from the ASM education collection pelt ring

Troubleshooting:  Narrower shaft than other artiodactyla.  Underfur fairly uniform in appearance, lightly pigmented and no medulla in the underfur, whereas the muskox has much more variation in the underfur. 

Range: In 1928, nineteen plains bison were transplanted from Montana to present-day Delta Junction.  Wild bison are the descendants of these.  Additional transplants have occurred in Copper River, Chitina River and Farewell.  Small domestic herd exist in agricultural areas of the mainland and on Kodiak and Popov Islands.  (ADF&G 2009)

Names: Order Artiodactyla (the even-toed ungulates) Family Bovidae (the bovids)  Also called Bos bison (Forsyth 1999)  American bison are sometimes called “buffalo” but more accurately that term belongs to the genus Bubalus that includes water buffalo and African buffalo and is not present in North America.  Two modern subspecies of American bison are the plains bison (Bison bison bison) and the wood bison (Bison bison athabascae)  Wood bison once existed in Interior and Southcentral Alaska up until a few hundred years ago, but have not yet been reintroduced. (ADF&G 2009)

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