Very fine clear and frosted glass paperweight in the form of a Bison with excellent hand finished surface detail, raised on a clear glass plinth and signed R.Lalique
Catalogue Number: 1196
Signature identification: “R. Lalique” etched to base
Date introduced: September 4, 1928
Dimensions: 12 cm long
Felix Marcilhac Catalogue Raisonné Page 392
Two extant and four extinct species are recognised. Of the four extinct species, three were North American: antiquus, B. latifrons, and B. occidentalis. The fourth, B. priscus, ranged across steppe environments from Western Europe, through Central Asia, East Asia including Japan, and onto North America.
Of the two surviving species, the American bison, are found only in North America, is the more numerous. Although sometimes referred to historically as a “buffalo”, it is only distantly related to the true buffalo. The North American species is composed of two subspecies, the plains bison, and the wood bison, which is the namesake of Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada. The European bison B. bonasus, or wisent, is found in Europe and the Caucasus, reintroduced after being extinct in the wild.
The American and the European bison (wisent) are the largest terrestrial animals in North America and Europe. They are good swimmers and can cross rivers over half a mile (800 meters) wide. They are nomadic grazers and travel in herds. The bulls leave the herds of females at two or three years of age, and join a male herd, which are generally smaller than female herds. Mature bulls rarely travel alone. Towards the end of the summer, for the reproductive season, the sexes necessarily commingle. American bison are known for living in the Great Plains. Both species were hunted close to extinction during the 19th and 20th centuries, but have since rebounded. The American plains bison is no longer listed as endangered, but the wood bison is on the endangered species list in Canada.
Although superficially similar, physical and behavioural differences exist between the American and European bison. The American species has 15 ribs, while the European bison has 14. The American bison has four lumbar vertebrae, while the European has five. (The difference in this case is that what would be the first lumbar vertebra in wisent has ribs attached to it in American bison and is thus counted as the 15th thoracic vertebra, compared to 14 thoracic vertebrae in wisent.) The adult American are less slim in build and have shorter legs. American bison tend to graze more, and browse less than their European relatives. Their anatomies reflect this behavioural difference; the American bison’s head hangs lower than the European’s. The body of the American breed is typically hairier, though its tail has less hair than that of the European breed. The horns of the European point through the plane of their faces, making them more adept at fighting through the interlocking of horns in the same manner as domestic cattle, unlike the American breed, which favours butting. American bison are more easily tamed than their European cousins, and breed with domestic cattle more readily.