Tag Archives: Pleistocene

Know Your Bones: May 2015

Last month’s challenge only lasted a day, because tuxbox was able to guess the correct answer with ease.


Dire Wolf


This critter is indeed a dire wolf (Canis dirus).


 photo 2015-01-09114449_zps2f1b6a2d.jpg

(Taken at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)


Dire wolves lived throughout North America and parts of South America during the Pleistocene 240,000 to 10,000 years ago, most likely evolving in North America. Dire wolves would have been one of the top predators during this time and may have prayed upon a few previous challenges. Dire wolves were most likely pack hunters like their modern wolf counterparts. It was also once thought that they were bone crushers, because of their large and robust size, but lack specialized teeth for such a task.


 photo 2013-10-04114325_zpsedf9305f.jpg

(Taken at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)


The average size for dire wolves is ~1.5 meters in length and a weight of 79 kilograms. This makes it roughly the same size as a modern gray wolf (Canis lupus), but far more robust. It would have had more muscles, including larger jaw muscles, and larger canine teeth than modern gray wolves. Dire wolves also had larger skulls, but shorter legs than gray wolves. The more muscular build and larger bones on the dire wolves would have helped it take down the larger prey animals alive during the Pleistocene. However, once those large prey animals started to die out, the smaller gray wolf would have been able to outcompete the dire wolf for the smaller game left in North and South America.


Moving on to this month’s challenge:


 photo 2013-03-03092212_zps42400bc5.jpg

(Taken at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)


Good luck to all that participate.

Know Your Bones: February 2015

Last month’s challenge was extremely hard. Once again, the bone fragments cause the most problems for the participants. However, Isotelus came  the closest with:


At least in the photo it doesn’t look to be very old relatively speaking, so I’m going to guess it’s an Ice Age-ish horn core and partial skull of an ancient bovid, possibly Bison of some sort. Size is hard to assess definitively, but I’m guessing it’s not a modern Bison or B. latifrons. B. priscus or antiquus?


Isotelus was correct in that this is an Ice Age critter; it was indeed a horn core and partial skull of a Bison. Still, she did not think it was a Bison latifrons when this partial skull is indeed from B. latifrons. Nevertheless, I believe that if I used a scale in that photo, she would have come up with the correct answer.


(Taken at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)

B. latifrons lived throughout North America 500,000 to 20,000 years ago during the Pleistocene. B. latifrons is the largest species of Bison (and possibly bovid) known. An adult male was ~2.5 meters at the shoulder and weighed over 2,000 kilograms. From tip to tip (including the outer sheath that grew over the bone core), B. latifrons had horns that measured ~2.4 meters across.


B. latifrons inhabited mostly woodlands and open forests, which means it was most likely a browser, feeding off shrubs and trees, unlike modern Bison. B. latifrons most likely used its large horns defending itself from predators and fighting for territory and mates. B. latifrons is not only possibly the largest bovid, but also one of the largest artiodactyls to have ever lived (on land).


Moving on to thiqs month’s challenge:


 photo 2014-01-03095825_zpsccbfb783.jpg
(Taken at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)

This one should be an easy one, so easy in fact that I would like to know the name of the critter and why it is so important.

Know Your Bones: September 2014

Once again, last month’s challenge brought in a few good guesses and several participants guessed the correct answer. However, Dragan Glas was the first to give the correct answer.


 It’s likely to be one of the following three:

a) M. Comlumbi – most common in NM;
b) M, Meridionalis;
c) M. Imperator.

Since I don’t know how to tell the difference between them, I’ll go with the numbers – M. Columbi.


This is indeed Mammuthus columbi (Columbian mammoth). I also want to say that I loved seeing the deductive reasoning that brought Dragan Glas to this answer.



(Taken at The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)


The Columbian mammoth roamed across the southern half of North America during the Pleistocene (2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago), also known as the Ice Age. The northern and southern boundary of their range would have changed with the movement of the ice sheets, but their fossils have been found in southern Canada thru Nicaragua. The Columbian mammoth inhabited the grasslands of North America and was an herbivore.


The Columbian mammoth was larger then its more famous cousin to the north, the woolly mammoth (M. primigenius). The Columbian mammoth could reach a height of 4 meters and weighed in at 9 tons. The males had tusks that could reach a length of over 4 meters. This makes the Columbian mammoth the largest animal to have inhabited North America since the Mesozoic and one of the largest land mammals to ever walk the earth. It is believed that the Columbian mammoth would have little body hair, much like modern elephants, because it inhabited warmer areas of North America during the Pleistocene and had such a large body size.


Moving on to this month’s challenge.



(Taken at The Dinosaur Museum and Natural Science Laboratory)


Good luck to all those that read this.