PBS features ‘Bison antiquus’ found on Orcas Island

  • Mon Jan 4th, 2021 10:33am
  • Life
Cranium of 14,000 year old Bison antiquus from Ayer Pond, Orcas Island, Salish Sea. Source: Kenady et al. 2010 (in press)

Submitted by the Orcas Island Historical Museums.

The story may be familiar to some residents who remember the remarkable find of the Bison antiquus, the extinct giant bison, at a swamp and peat bog adjoining Obstruction State Park.

In 2003, some workmen were digging a trench with a backhoe at this pond when they noticed large bones. Remarkably, the operators and drivers stopped work and excavated the site by hand, without tools, finding and collecting 98 bone elements and fragments, including some very small and delicate ones and a large skull.

With the property owners not present, the workers were unsure of what to do, so they stored the bones in a cardboard box, uncleaned and untouched for several years until they came to the attention of archaeologists.

Now it has come to the attention of Mossback’s Northwest on PBS, Bison Hunters in the San Juans, (Season 2, Episode 1), which airs Airs Thursday, Jan. 7.

Some of the filming was done at the property owners’ pond and some at the Orcas Island Historical Museum in Eastsound, where the bones have become part of their permanent collection.

The museum hopes to expand the Bison exhibit in order to tell the story of a time on Orcas 14,000 years ago.

You can read more about this rare find at https://qmackie.com/2010/04/24/orcas-bison/, and if you would like to get more involved with this project at the museum, email info@orcasmuseums.org.