You never know what you'll find when you go fishing... In late August 2013, a small piece of bone was seen eroding out of the cutbank of Rocky Creek. The bone was the size and shape of a piece of blackboard chalk. After a little scratching and picking, two leg bones were revealed… and after a few return digs, it was determined that an almost complete bovine skeleton was present.
The "Burnet County Bison" was properly excavated and scientifically documented in April & May, 2014.
Time lapse in-situ video by Bruce Turner; Music by Holland Hopson. Hear his music here: http://hollandhopson.com/
Carbon dating revealed the bison lived in Pre-Columbian times between the years 1308-1424, AD. The spot where she was found is part of a large migration corridor that stretched down the continent, through the Great Plains and into the Edwards Plateau. This bison was a 1300-1800 lb. seven-year old female who died in the Lampasas River Drainage Basin shortly before European contact led to interbreeding between their cattle and the American buffalo. Her bones are now being preserved in Austin.
Nicknamed "Rockie", In 2016 she became the first animal in the first registered herd of prehistoric bison (CHR1) in the National Bison Association. An attempt to analyze her DNA to compare with genomes of modern American bison, many of which contain trace elements of cattle hybridization was unsuccessful due to mineralization. Her leg bone was analyzed for Project Bison, a study of the fossil record of the bison in North America and its ability to adapt to climate changes, with the aim of better preparing contemporary bison producers with a management strategy in the event of abrupt climate changes.
Rockie is currently on display at the Falls On The Colorado Museum in Marble Falls, Texas. Check the museum out if you are ever in the Highland Lakes region.
*NOTE: Those interested in measurements or other scientific information from this excavation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Video by Austin Humphreys, c/o Austin American-Statesman
Special thanks to the digging crew:
David Calame--Foreman/Cowboy Archaeologist. Check out his great website here: www.texasarrowheads.org.
Geoff "Grizz" Johnson
Gracie the dog
Grateful for guidance and material support from the National Bison Association, Joe Taylor and the Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum in Crosbyton, Texas, Glenn Goode, Art Tawater, UTSA Center for Archaeological Research, Llano Uplift Archaeological Society, Dr. Lundelius and the UT Vertebrate Paleontology Lab staff, Barbara Winsborough from Winsborough Consulting, All About Bison, and the Texas Tech Paleontology Dept. Go Red Raiders!
Special thanks to Marietta "Granny" Mesecke of Temple, Texas for spending her 95th birthday at the dig site! Happy birthday, Granny, we love you!
"The Reveal" Becky Risor's painting of the in-situ skull. Inktense pencils on watercolor paper; See her art gallery here: http://visionsfromowlranch.weebly.com/
BURNET COUNTY BISON IN THE NEWS:
COMPLETE PHOTO GALLERY HERE:
Where the buffalo roamed