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Feb 1, 2006
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A man walking in a small Northwest Territories community has stumbled across what paleontologists believe could be the carcass of a steppe bison that roamed before the last Ice Age.


Shane Van Loon displays the ancient animal skull he found last week in Tsiigehtchic, about 230 kilometres south of Tuktoyaktuk in the Northwest Territories. Paleontologists believe the animal was a steppe bison that lived more than 20,000 years ago.


Source: CBC News/MSN

The remains of the beast were uncovered in the permafrost near an eroding cliff, said Shane Van Loon, who first came across the pre-historic find last week while walking along the riverbank in Tsiigehtchic, about 230 kilometres south of Tuktoyaktuk.Van Loon said something strange was jutting out of the permafrost from an eroding cliff, so he climbed up for a closer inspection and noticed the frozen animal hide and bone, as well as a large-horned skull that measures one metre wide from horn to horn.

Some of the animal's hair and innards were kept intact by the perennially frozen subsoil, he said.

Van Loon said he kept quiet about the discovery for several days until some surrounding ice melted and the animal's remains fell to the ground. Then he collected what he could and notified officials.

"I got all four hooves - one missing toes," he said. "I got a back leg and two shoulder blades and half the spine, and the head."

A piece of the animal's intestine was dried out and still felt rubbery, Van Loon said.

Probably more than 20,000 years old

Grant Zazula, a paleontologist with the Yukon government, said the animal could predate the last Ice Age, which ended about 10,000 years ago, since the Mackenzie Delta area would have been covered in glaciers during that period.

That would likely mean the specimen is more than 20,000 years old, he said.

"Finding an Ice-Age animal [is] something we typically find in the Yukon, but rarely find in the Northwest Territories," Zazula said. "But if it is - as we suspect - an ice-age bison, it might be one of the first found in the Northwest Territories."

Scientists said the find could provide information about how the animals lived and why they became extinct.

"It can tell us so much more about how those bison lived and why they lived and what they were doing on the ancient landscape," Zazula said.

Zazula was to travel to the delta on Wednesday to examine the remains for himself.

Nov 5, 2005
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you know its really hard to picture something like 200 years old let alone 20,000 years old.

thats insane.


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