What I want you to know. Which is everything.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Geek Moment: The American Bison

I've decided that periodically I will post a "Geek Moment," i.e., I show my interest and/or enthusiam for something that would have the potential to alienate me from the discussion at any social gathering. This is the first.

I find this totally facsinating. It's the featured picture on the Wikipedia homepage:

Here's the caption that went with it:

Photograph from the mid-1870s of a pile of American Bison skulls waiting to be ground for fertilizer. Bison were hunted almost to extinction in the 19th century and were reduced to a few hundred head by the mid-1880s, from which all the present day's managed herds are descended. The commercial take arguably was anywhere from 2,000 to 100,000 animals per day, though there are no statistics available.

Read more here

I've always heard that the American Bison was hunted practically to extinction and I've always accepted it as fact, but I've never really gotten how a whole species could, within the course of only a handful of decades, be almost completely wiped out. This picture made it a little clearer for me.


ML said...

I actually read this blog the other night and promptly looked to the Wickapedia page. It is just amazing. I enjoyed this bit of history. It is sad though how those poor animals were treated. Of course, on the other hand, people needed them to live.

Kyle said...

It wasn't the Native Americans hunting them to extinction it was the White people who would kill them, take their hyde and then leave the rest to rot. They didn't need them to live, they were hunting them for profit.

Josh Kellar said...

If they left all but the hyde to rot, where did the pile of skulls come from?

Kyle said...

That's a good question, Josh.

I imagine that someone recovered them. The caption even says that the bones were ground to fertilizer. The point is that they were killed for commericial use, not to "live off the land" as my mother implied. She was thinking of Native Americans.

Dan Carlson said...

I'm pretty sure this photo was what caused me to dream about taking a hike with friends and finding a giant field of animal skulls.

Thanks a lot, Kyle.

*runs away*

ML said...

Okay, Hun...time to change the blog from the dead buffalo skulls.