This atlas vertebra from an early bison species dates back to the Pleistocene. It has not been restored or repaired in any way.
The atlas vertebra is the first cervical vertebra of the spine that is located in the neck, supporting the head. The atlas vertebra and axis vertebra have a very specific appearance that differentiates them from any other vertebrae because these bones are designed to accommodate nodding and shaking of the head.
Because bison are famous for their massive heads, the long ends of the bone on the right and left are extremely large to support the neck muscle attachment. The hole in the center of the vertebra is where the spinal cord passes through.
Prehistoric bison roamed North America between 200,000 - 10,000 years ago. Bison latifrons was one of the largest ruminants ever. It was estimated at being 25-50% larger than our modern Bison bison with lengths reaching 15 feet, heights of 8 feet and weighing up to 4,500 lbs. Later subspecies like Bison antiquus thrived in Ice Age climate and were a primary source of food for early man.
Type: Bison Atlas Vertebra
Species: Bison sp.
Age: Pleistocene (~ 15,000 years old)
Locality: Cherokee County, Iowa
Size: 6 x 3.63 x 3.88 inches
Weight: 12.05 oz.