Bighorn Basin Bison Skulls Sought After for Prehistoric Study
Written by Andrew-Rossi on October 21, 2020
Meeteetse wants your skulls – and the older, the better.
This isn’t a ghoulish Halloween plot, but rather an attempt to better understand the history of America’s most iconic big animal in the Bighorn Basin.
The Meeteetse Museums are asking for residents throughout northwest Wyoming to participate in the Bison of the Bighorn Basin project. All they need to do is bring in their bison skull for some scientific analysis.
The project is part of a national project of bison skull measuring to get an idea of bison history, distribution, and patterns like size and location over thousands of years.
Amy Phillips, Director of Education at Meeteetse Museums, says the study isn’t being picky about skulls. Whether it’s complete or just a few pieces, recently found in a cut bank or hanging over the family fireplace for generations – the museum wants to measure it.
“From a bison skull, we can learn quite a bit. We can look at age. We can look at the sex of the bison, and how big they were,” Philips says. “We want as many as possible – the more the better. It gives us more data and minimizes errors.”
The information collected will tell a better history of the bison in Wyoming, from modern to prehistoric times.
Much of the information in existence comes from archaeological sites like bison jumps. Phillips is counting on the information (and skulls) ranchers possess to add to this historic knowledge.
The museum will be visiting several spots in the Bighorn Basin through the rest of the month to collect bison skull measurements:
- The Washakie Museum and Cultural Center in Worland on Oct. 24
- The Homesteader Museum in Powell on Oct. 31
- Make an appointment at the Meeteetse Museums anytime
There will be no destructive sampling of bison skulls, just measurements taken. Any additional information that skull owners can provide – location or season of discovery, for example – would be very welcome.
The entire process should take less than 15 minutes.
Philips says any information from Park County will be especially sought after, as there is less archaeological information on the county compared to others in Wyoming:
“I used to work at the University of Wyoming’s Archeological Repository and out of all of Wyoming, Park County has some pretty low site numbers and information – and there’s a lot of really cool stuff out here. And the community knows it best. By incorporating them and their heirloom bison crania we’re going to be able to learn a lot.”
To make an appointment to have your bison skull measured for the Bison of the Bighorn Basin Project in Meeteetse, call Amy Phillips at the Meeteetse Museums at (307) 868-2423.