Orcas Island 15,000 year old Bison antiquus exhibit opens

Submitted by the Orcas Island Historical Museum.

Step into the really ancient past! Yes, the skeletal remains of a family of Bison antiquus hold a place of honor in our local museum (the log cabin complex near the Village Green). The exhibit opened on July 28.

The Bison antiquus is the ancestor of the modern plains buffalo. It was found in a former swamp here on Orcas. So “give me a home where the buffalo roam” is an Orcas song after all.

Carbon dated to be 15,000 years old, these bones are widely thought to be among the most complete skeletons of this species ever found anywhere! And what’s more, signs of butchering on some of the long bones suggest that people were here too, harvesting meat, marrow and fur. Civilization. We don’t know who butchered the bison, but this gives credence to the local Indigenous lore that people have been here since time immemorial. A greatly refreshed exhibition of the bison remains is newly displayed and everyone is invited to come see it! And come see the other stuff too — it’s far more recent than the ancient bison bones, but it gives great glimpses into the lives of people who lived here before you did. Also showing is a map exhibit of how they got here.

The Orcas Island Historical Museums are a great place for visiting — and yes — or volunteering. Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Longer hours are promised if we get more volunteer greeters!