View Full Version : Cave paintings match DNA analysis re “Higgs bison”

Jean M
10-18-2016, 10:05 PM
Cave paintings match DNA analysis to confirm the existence of the “Higgs bison”

New study fills in the modern European bison’s family tree.

The origin of modern European bison had long been a mystery due to gaps in the fossil records. Now, a study published today in Nature Communication shows that they originated over 120,000 years ago through the hybridization of the extinct steppe bison and the extinct ancestor of modern cattle, aurochs.

Researchers corroborated ancient DNA analysis with 15,000-year-old cave paintings, which depicted the previously unknown hybrid species of bison.

“Finding that a hybridization event led to a completely new species was a real surprise – as this isn’t really meant to happen in mammals,” says study leader Alan Cooper, University of Adelaide. “Normally, when you get hybridization between mammals, the hybrid form isn’t optimized for the environment, and so it gets subsumed back into one of them. You see mixing going on, but it never forms a new species; here it did.”

The actual paper is open access: http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms13158
Julien Soubrier et al., Early cave art and ancient DNA record the origin of European bison, Nature Communications 7, Article number: 13158 (2016) Published online: 18 October 2016


The two living species of bison (European and American) are among the few terrestrial megafauna to have survived the late Pleistocene extinctions. Despite the extensive bovid fossil record in Eurasia, the evolutionary history of the European bison (or wisent, Bison bonasus) before the Holocene (<11.7 thousand years ago (kya)) remains a mystery. We use complete ancient mitochondrial genomes and genome-wide nuclear DNA surveys to reveal that the wisent is the product of hybridization between the extinct steppe bison (Bison priscus) and ancestors of modern cattle (aurochs, Bos primigenius) before 120 kya, and contains up to 10% aurochs genomic ancestry. Although undetected within the fossil record, ancestors of the wisent have alternated ecological dominance with steppe bison in association with major environmental shifts since at least 55 kya. Early cave artists recorded distinct morphological forms consistent with these replacement events, around the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, ∼21–18 kya).

10-18-2016, 11:15 PM
I keep reading that as "existence of Higgs Boson" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higgs_boson)and it causes my brain to cramp. ;)