Fossil Friday: bison skull


Earlier this week, the Western Science Center hosted Dr. Bernard K. Means of the Virtual Curation Lab at Virginia Commonwealth University. Bernard has visited the museum several times to scan specimens in the collection and create 3D digital models. During his most recent visit, museum staff pulled several large fossils out of their display cases to be scanned. One of them was this spectacular skull.

This skull is from Bison latifrons, a giant species of bison related to the living bison (Bison bison) that roams North America today, but bigger and with much more impressive horns. The skull is upside down in this photo, showing off the upper teeth. The left horn is massive and curves towards the upper left corner of the image. This skull was found here at Diamond Valley Lake, alongside fossils of American mastodons, Columbian mammoths, horses, camels, and giant ground sloths. Bison latifrons went extinct between 30,000 and 20,000 years ago.

Bernard has uploaded the 3D model to Sketchfab. In addition to Bernard’s work, Western Science Center staff have been scanning many of our fossils as well. We recently uploaded models of the fossils of the new species of armored dinosaur Invictarx zephyri to Sketchfab  and MorphoSource. Uploading these 3D models makes it easier for other paleontologists and the public to learn from Western Science Center fossils, even if they are unable to come to the museum to see the real things. 

Post by Curator Dr. Andrew T. McDonald