Temporal range: Irvingtonian to Holocene 1.8–0.009 Ma
|"Blue Babe", a mummified specimen from Alaska|
The steppe bison or steppe wisent (Bison priscus) is an extinct species of bison that was once found on the Mammoth steppe where its range included Europe, Central Asia, Japan, Yakutia, Beringia, and northwest Canada during the Quaternary.
The steppe bison became extinct in the early Holocene, as it was replaced in Europe by the modern bison species and in America by a sequence of species (first Bison latifrons, and somewhat later, Bison antiquus) culminating in the modern American bison.
The steppe bison was over 2 m tall at the shoulder, and resembled the modern bison species, reaching 900 kg (2,000 lb) in weight. The tips of the horns were a meter apart, the horns themselves being over half a meter long.
Blue Babe is the mummy of a 36,000-year-old male steppe bison which was discovered north of Fairbanks, Alaska, in July 1979. The mummy was noticed by a gold miner who named the mummy Blue Babe - "Babe" for Paul Bunyan's mythical giant ox, permanently turned blue when she was buried to the horns in a blizzard. (Blue Babe's own bluish cast was caused by a coating of vivianite, a blue iron phosphate covering much of the specimen.) Blue Babe is also frequently referenced when talking about scientists eating their own specimens: the research team that was preparing it for permanent display in the University of Alaska Museum removed a portion of the mummy's neck, stewed it, and dined on it to celebrate the accomplishment.
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