The Mystery of the European Bison Origin Resolved
The question of the European bison origin was open for a long time. This is one of the largest land animals that were on the verge of extinction in 1920s because of continuous haunting. Now there is a certain population of this species on the border between Poland and Belarus, and scientists’ interest to it increases dramatically. In fact, recently the mystery of this type of bison was opened due to the research of the DNA and, surprisingly, cave pictures.
The research on this question had been going on for a whole decade, the scientists of the main team working on it analyzed mitochondrial DNA that was extracted from 14,000 and over 50,000 years old specimens. Just recently, when the technologies allowed to research using nuclear DNA, the scientists made it possible to show the world a more or less clean origin of the species.
It turned out that the European bison origin comes from two species that went extinct hundreds of years ago. The older ancestor is the steppe bison that went extinct over 11,000 years ago. The younger one is the auroch species that lost its last representative is 1627. The process of hybridization that led to the creation of wisents (another name for the European bison) had started about 120,000 years ago.
As for cave art, it became a good source the scientists used to clarify the timing when and where the European bison and its ancestors appeared to exist. Besides, it became clear what metamorphoses did their bodies underwent. The ancient hunters spent years on watching animals move, grow, and change, so the paintings showed the anatomy of the animals pretty well, according to the researchers.
Even though a few scientists don’t accept the results of the research, according to most experts, they are true. This example shows that cave art in combination with DNA analysis becomes a very convenient way of determining species’ origins.