Cave paintings reveal clues about mysterious Ice Age beast

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Byline: Josh King

A new study surrounding Ice Age cave art is providing some fascinating insight into the mysterious origins of the European bison.

Using the cave art and DNA from ancient bison bones, scientists were able to determine that the modern European bison is a cross between an ancestor of modern cattle and the steppe bison.

Jokingly named the "Higgs bison" after the particle physicists were not sure existed, hybrids of two different species are very rare and break the rules of biology.

The study reported in the journal, Nature Communications, showed the age of the cave paintings matched the radiocarbon dating of the bones. These indicated each bison was dominant at certain times.

By looking at the depictions of the varying length of horns and hump, scientists were able to see the gradual evolution of the hybrid.

The European bison lives mostly in Poland and was nearly driven to extinction 100 years ago. Today, however, thousands now thrive in the wild.

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