Bradshaw Foundation - Latest News



Ice Age Cave Art reveals hybrid Higgs Bison

19 Oct 2016
Share on Facebook

An article on - Higgs Bison: Mysterious Hybrid of Bison and Cattle Hidden in Ice Age Cave Art - reports on a recent study led by University of Adelaide researcher Julien Soubrier which reveals that prehistoric European cave artists recorded a previously unknown hybrid species of bison and cattle on cave walls more than 15,000 years ago.

Higgs bison revealed in Ice Age rock art

Charcoal drawing of a steppe bison in Chauvet. Image: Carole Fritz.

This hybrid species originated over 120,000 years ago through the hybridization of the aurochs (Bos primigenius) - an extinct species of ox that inhabited Europe, Asia and North Africa - and the extinct steppe bison (Bison priscus). The hybrid species eventually became the ancestor of the extant European bison (Bison bonasus).

Co-author Prof. Alan Cooper, Director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA at the University of Adelaide, explained how rare such a hybridization event is in mammals.

"The genetic signals from the ancient bison bones were very odd, but we weren't quite sure a species really existed - so we referred to it as the Higgs Bison."

Charcoal drawings of bison in the Salon Noir chamber of the Niaux cave.

Genetic material extracted from radiocarbon-dated bison bones and teeth found in caves across Europe, the Urals, and the Caucasus was studied in order to trace the genetic history of the populations. A distinctive genetic signal emerged from many fossil bison bones, which was quite different from the European bison or any other known species.

Article continues below

Radiocarbon dating revealed that the hybrid species dominated the European record for thousands of years at several points, but alternated over time - as climate changed - with the steppe bison, which had previously been considered the only bison species present in Late Ice Age Europe.

Rock art experts in France agreed that there were indeed two distinct forms of bison art in Ice Age caves, and their ages match those of the different species. The cave paintings depict bison with either long horns and large forequarters ? more like the?American bison (Bison bison), which is descended from the steppe bison ? or with shorter horns and small humps, more similar to the European bison, also known as wisent.

Higgs bison revealed in Ice Age rock art of Chauvet

Cave painting example of steppe bison-like and wisent-like morphs. Left: reproduction from Lascaux cave (France), from the Solutrean or early Magdalenian period (20,000 years ago). Right: reproduction from the Pergouset cave (France), from the Magdalenian period (17,000 years ago). Image: Julien Soubrier et al.

Once formed, the new hybrid species seems to have successfully carved out a niche on the landscape, and kept to itself genetically. It dominated during colder tundra-like periods, without warm summers, and was the largest European species to survive the megafaunal extinctions.

The research was published recently in the journal Nature Communications;

Early cave art and ancient DNA record the origin of European bison

Julien Soubrier, Graham Gower, Alan Cooper
Nature Communications 7, Article number:13158 (2016)

Look at more rock art from the Chauvet cave:
Look at more rock art from the Niaux cave:


Bradshaw FoundationAboutiShopBook ReviewSite MapMailing ListDonateFacebookTwitterContact
If you have enjoyed visiting this section of the website please consider adding a link
Bradshaw Foundation © MMXI
Homepage About the Foundation Contact Us Facebook News Articles Twitter List of Research Papers Professor Stephen Oppenheimer Travel Index About the Expeditions Forthcoming Expeditions Bespoke Expeditions Enquire Practical Information History of Exploration Welcome to the iShop Film Downloads DVD's Sculpture Prints Clothing Messenger Bag eBooks INORA Downloads About iLecture Films Shipping & Handling iLectures In Conversation Video Stories Travel Films Read the reviews Privacy Policy Bradshaw Foundation Facebook Friends of the Foundation Archive Index World's Oldest Rock Art Africa Documentary Films South Africa RARI Giraffe Carvings Niger Namibia Western Central Africa Africa Paintings Gallery Tanzania The Tuareg People Tuareg Salt Caravans Gilf Kebir Birnin Kudu Rock Art Center Archive Index San Rock Art Paintings San Bushman San Rock Art Film Origins Centre Johannesburg Archive Index Arizona Baja California Baja California Film Coso Range Talking Stone Film Nevada Oregon Territory Moab, Utah Clovis First Australia Archive Index Introduction Bradshaw Paintings Kimberley Region The Unambal Hugh Brown Leif Thiele Gallery Dan Clark Grahame Walsh Bradshaws / Gwion Gwion Archive Index Introduction Origins of the British Avebury Stonehenge Sounds of Stonehenge The British Museum British Isles Megaliths Gower Peninsula Rock Art Mendip Hills Prehistory Northumberland Rock Art Red Lady of Paviland Stone Age Mammoth Abattoir Archive Index Introduction Peterborough Petroglyphs Western Canadian Rock Art Writing-On-Stone Wuikinuxv Territory Dinosaur Provincial Park Archive Index Huashan Rock Art Yinchuan Museum Rock Art Festival Field Trip Gallery Itinerant Creeds Inner Mongolia & Ningxia Vanishing Civilization Life in Rock Art (PDF) Tibet Tibet Photographs Dazu Rock Carvings Tiger Motif Archive Index Chauvet Cave Lascaux Cave Niaux Cave Cosquer Cave Rouffignac Cave Portable Art Defining Rock Art Tuc d'Audoubert Bison Dr. Jean Clottes Index UNESCO World Heritage Introduction Cave Paintings Gallery Visiting the Chauvet Cave Return to Chauvet Cave Investigating the Cave Venus & Sorcerer Werner Herzog Film Chauvet Publications India Archive Index Rock Art Central India Pachmarhi Hills India Rock Art Gallery Preservation & Education Dr. V. S. Wakankar Articles on India Rock Art Contemporary Art Middle East Archive Index Middle East Inroduction Rock Art of Iran Rock Art of Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates Rock Art Ancient Geometry Middle East Colonisation Scandinavian Rock Art Archive Scandinavian Introduction Alta Rock Art Norway Rock Art in Finland Tanum Rock Art Sweden Thor Heyerdahl Archive Index Introduction America's Oldest Art? Pedra Furada Bolivian Rock Art Campeche Island - Brazil Checta Petroglyphs - Peru Cueva de las Manos Santa Catarina Island - Brazil Rock Art in Britain Campeche Rock Art Petroglyphs El Salvador - Corinto Cave Hand Rock Art Paintings Tibetan Rock Art United Arab Emirates Uzbekistan Yinchuan Rock Art Museum Introduction Ice Age Art Gallery Claire Artemyz Jill Cook Interview Cycladic Introduction Cycladic Gallery Introduction Geometric Signs Chart Research Methodology Geometric Signs in France Sign Types/Countries/Regions Bibliography Ancient Symbols in Rock Art Newsletter Archive Download Issues Introduction Genetic Map Professor Stephen Oppenheimer Further Reading Origins of the British BBC Documentary Origins Index Origins Overview 13 Big Questions Stanley Ambrose Homo Floresiensis Herto Skulls Homo Dmanisi Liujiang Skull Introduction Sentinels in Stone Easter Island Rock Art Birdman Cult / Motif Sea & Marine Creatures Design & Motifs Dr Georgia Lee Easter Island Map Contemporary Art Glossary Conclusion Thor Heyerdahl Introduction When & Who Built It? How Was It Built? The Area Sounds of Stonehenge Meaning of a Pyramid Pyramid Studies Pyramid Superstructure Pyramid Substructure Pyramid Preparations Pyramid Building Saqqara Nabil Swelim Temples of Malta and Gozo Research in the Caucasus The Keselo Foundation Homo Dmanisi Ancient Toolmakers Index Introduction Descent into the Cave The Decorated Caves Shamanistic Experience Spring Initiation Rites Summary Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Professor John P. Miller Motif: Eternal Index Banksy Han Meilin Bruce Radke Christian Tuki Gordon Ellis-Brown Site Map Search the Website Glossary of Terms & Definition Podcast on iTunes Other Websites Contact the Foundation