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The Making of a Diorama

The Habitat Views video considers ways of looking at dioramas today, and documents the creation of several new displays. Take a look over on our  YouTube channel >

Recreating Nature Indoors

Ever wonder who made the dioramas in our mammal halls? Read all about the artists who created these wonderful scenes. Learn more >

Do Dolphins Have Hair?

Our mammal researchers answer this and other questions on our Mammalogy FAQs page.
Learn more >

I'm Not Made of Paper

This double-walled, thermo porcelain mug with a silicone top only looks like something you'd throw away. Get yours from the Museum Store and say no to landfill clutter. Shop here >


Plains bison

Bison (Bos) bison bison (Linnaeus, 1758)

Plains bison diorama in the North American Mammal Hall


 October morning: looking westward toward the Big Horn Mountains in north central Wyoming

Background artist:

 Duncan Alanson Spencer

Also present:

 gray wolf,
Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia),
Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)

The bison is the largest living land mammal native to the Western Hemisphere. Bison migrated from Asia into North America about 200,000 years ago.

Bison were hunted almost to extinction during the nineteenth century but today the bison population exceeds 400,000 individuals, more than half of which live on private farms and ranches.

The bison in this exhibit were obtained from Antelope Island in Utah's Great Salt Lake. They were first displayed in 1925 and  at that time constituted the world's largest exhibit of a single species.

Biological Information

Range map for the plains bison


Central North America south of 55°N and northern Mexico. Nearly all herds now confined by fences


Mixed grass and short grass prairies


Plains bison secure in U.S.A. but wood bison (B. bison athabascae) is endangered in northwestern Canada



Further information about this species may be found on the Animal Diversity Web page for American bison.