Woodland Musk Ox

(Symbos cavifrons)

Woodland Musk Ox

During the Ice Age, Symbos, the Woodland Musk Ox was a common resident of what is now Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. For thousand of years, it lived in Illinois, becoming extinct only about 11,000 years ago. Adapted to prairies as well as forests, Symbos was contemporaneous with mammoths, mastodons, stag moose, preccaries, ground sloths, giant bison and beaver as large as brown bears. Also, there is evidence that it was hunted by Paleo-Indians. Sometimes referred to as the Helmeted Musk Ox, Symbos possessed a massive set of horns that differentiate it from Ovibos, the modern tundra musk ox. In addition, Ovibos is shorter and more massive. Symbos' skull is longer and deeper than that of Ovibos. Shown here in summer coat, Symbos developed a heavy coat in response to cold. More primitive than the tundra ox, Symbos is believed to have developed in mountain valleys in an area between Siberia and northwesternmost Canada. From there it spread widely over the continent Fossil remains of the ox most certainly are under-reported. Plowed up in a field or found in a stream, their remains may appear to be those of bison or cattle.