What’s the Difference Between Buffalo and Bison?
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It’s easy to understand why people confuse bison and buffalo. Both are large, horned, oxlike animals of the Bovidae family. There are two kinds of bison, the American bison and the European bison, and two forms of buffalo, water buffalo and Cape buffalo. However, it’s not difficult to distinguish between them, ____________________ (1) if you focus on the three H’s: home, hump, and horns.
____________________ (2) the song “Home on the Range,” buffalo do not roam in the American West. ____________________ (3), they are indigenous to South Asia (water buffalo) and Africa (Cape buffalo), ____________________ (4) bison are found in North America and parts of Europe. ____________________ (5) being a misnomer—one often attributed to confused explorers—buffalo remains commonly used when referring to American bison, ____________________ (6) adding to the confusion.
Another major difference is the presence of a hump. Bison have one at the shoulders ____________________ (7) buffalo don’t. The hump allows the bison’s head to function as a plow, sweeping away drifts of snow in the winter. The next telltale sign concerns the horns. Buffalo tend to have large horns—some have reached more than 6 feet (1.8 meters)—with very pronounced arcs. The horns of bison, ____________________ (8), are much shorter and sharper. And, if you want to throw a B into the mix, you can check for a beard. Bison are the hipsters of the two animals, sporting thick beards. Buffalo are beardless.
(Adapted from www.britannica.com)