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3 September 2005
Bison in Illinois 1,700 years earlier than thought

According to scientists, bison bones found in Peoria County prove the animals were in Illinois about 1,700 years earlier than previously thought. Alan Harn, an archaeologist with Dickson Mounds Museum, said radiocarbon dating confirmed a group of eight bison died at a site along the Illinois River around 265 BCE. Until the dating tests, scientists did not have evidence of bison in Illinois before 1450. "It's the first and only sample we've found like this in Illinois," Harn said.
    Beach erosion at the site has started to uncover bones, including a partial rib cage, vertebrae, ribs, neck, back and a complete leg. Scientists believe the animals crashed through the river's ice and drowned.
    The half-mile sandy beach site has been excavated off and on since the late 1980s. Scientists uncovered a primitive hearth and several arrowheads just beneath some of the remains -- evidence that American Indians inhabited the area before the bison died. Archaeologists also found two partial deer skeletons and two partial elk skeletons near the bison.

Source: The State.com (30 August 2005)

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