B. b. athabascae
B. b. bison
Bison bison montanae
American bison or simply bison (
Bison bison), also commonly known
as the American buffalo or simply buffalo, is a North American species
of bison that once roamed the grasslands of
North America in massive
herds. They became nearly extinct by a combination of commercial
hunting and slaughter in the 19th century and introduction of bovine
diseases from domestic cattle, and have made a recent resurgence
largely restricted to a few national parks and reserves. Their
historical range roughly comprised a triangle between the Great Bear
Lake in Canada's far northwest, south to the Mexican states of Durango
and Nuevo León, and east to the
Atlantic Seaboard of the United
States (nearly to the
Atlantic tidewater in some areas) from New York
to Georgia and per some sources down to Florida.
Bison were seen in
North Carolina near Buffalo Ford on the
Catawba River as late as
Two subspecies or ecotypes have been described: the plains bison (B.
b. bison), smaller in size and with a more rounded hump, and the wood
bison (B. b. athabascae)—the larger of the two and having a taller,
square hump. Furthermore, the plains bison has been
suggested to consist of a northern plains (B. b. montanae) and a
southern plains (B. b. bison) subspecies, bringing the total to
three. However, this is generally not supported. The wood bison is
one of the largest wild species of bovid in the world, surpassed by
only the Asian gaur and wild water buffalo. It is the largest extant
land animal in the Americas.
American bison is the national mammal of the United States.
Male plains bison in the
Wichita Mountains of Oklahoma
2.1 Differences from European bison
4 Range and population
6 As livestock
7 Behavior and ecology
7.1 Social behavior and reproduction
7.3 Wallowing behavior
7.5 Dangers to humans
11 As a symbol
11.1 Native Americans
11.2 North America
12 See also
14 Further reading
15 External links
The term buffalo is sometimes considered to be a misnomer for this
animal, and could be confused with "true" buffalos, the Asian water
buffalo and the African buffalo. However, bison is a Greek word
meaning ox-like animal, while buffalo originated with the French fur
trappers who called these massive beasts bœufs, meaning ox or
bullock—so both names, bison and buffalo, have a similar meaning.
The name buffalo is listed in many dictionaries as an acceptable name
for American buffalo or bison. In reference to this animal, the term
buffalo dates to 1625 in North American usage when the term was first
recorded for the American mammal. It thus has a much longer
history than the term bison, which was first recorded in
1774. The
American bison is very closely related to
the wisent or European bison.
Plains Indian languages in general, male and female buffaloes are
distinguished, with each having a different designation rather than
there being a single generic word covering both sexes. Thus:
in Arapaho: bii (buffalo cow), henéécee (buffalo bull)
in Lakota: pté (buffalo cow), tȟatȟáŋka (buffalo bull)
Such a distinction is not a general feature of the language (for
example, Arapaho possesses gender-neutral terms for other large
mammals such as elk, mule deer, etc.), and so presumably is due to the
special significance of the buffalo in
Plains Indian life and culture.
Adult male (farther) and adult female (closer) with a background of
rich autumn colors, in Yellowstone National Park
A bison has a shaggy, long, dark-brown winter coat, and a
lighter-weight, lighter-brown summer coat. As is typical in ungulates,
the male bison is slightly larger than the female and, in some cases,
can be considerably heavier.
Plains bison are often in the smaller
range of sizes, and wood bison in the larger range. Head-and-body
lengths range from 2 to 3.5 m (6.6 to 11.5 ft) long, the
tail adding 30 to 91 cm (12 to 36 in). Shoulder heights in
the species can range from 152 to 186 cm (60 to 73 in).
Weights can range from 318 to 1,000 kg (701 to
2,205 lb) Typical weight ranges in the species were
reported as 460 to 988 kg (1,014 to 2,178 lb) in males and
360 to 544 kg (794 to 1,199 lb) in females, the lowest
weights probably representing typical weight around the age of sexual
maturity at 2 to 3 years of age. Mature bulls tend to be
considerably larger than cows. Cow weights have had reported medians
of 450 to 495 kg (992 to 1,091 lb), with one small sample
averaging 479 kg (1,056 lb), whereas bulls may reportedly
weigh a median of 730 kg (1,610 lb) with an average from a
small sample of 765 kg (1,687 lb). The
heaviest wild bull ever recorded weighed 1,270 kg
(2,800 lb). When raised in captivity and farmed for meat, the
bison can grow unnaturally heavy and the largest semidomestic bison
weighed 1,724 kg (3,801 lb). The heads and forequarters
are massive, and both sexes have short, curved horns that can grow up
to 2 ft (61 cm) long, which they use in fighting for status
within the herd and for defense.
Bison are herbivores, grazing on the grasses and sedges of the North
American prairies. Their daily schedule involves two-hour periods of
grazing, resting, and cud chewing, then moving to a new location to
Bison bulls of that age may try to mate with cows, but if
more mature bulls are present, they may not be able to compete until
they reach five years of age.
For the first two months of life, calves are lighter in color than
mature bison. One very rare condition is the white buffalo, in which
the calf turns entirely white.
Differences from European bison
Although they are superficially similar, the American and European
bison exhibit a number of physical and behavioral differences. Adult
American bison are slightly heavier on average because of their less
rangy build, and have shorter legs, which render them slightly shorter
at the shoulder.
American bison tend to graze more, and browse
less than their European relatives, because their necks are set
differently. Compared to the nose of the American bison, that of the
European species is set farther forward than the forehead when the
neck is in a neutral position. The body of the
American bison is
hairier, though its tail has less hair than that of the European
bison. The horns of the
European bison point forward through the plane
of its face, making it more adept at fighting through the interlocking
of horns in the same manner as domestic cattle, unlike the American
bison which favors charging.
American bison are more easily tamed
than the European, and breed more readily with domestic cattle.
The bovine family (taurids and bisonids) diverged from the common
ancestral line with water buffalo and
African buffalo about 5 to 10
million years ago. Thereafter, the family lineage of bison and
taurine cattle does not appear to be a straightforward "tree"
structure as is often depicted in much evolution, because evidence
exists of interbreeding and crossbreeding between different species
and members within this family, even many millions of years after
their ancestors separated into different species. This cross breeding
was not sufficient to conflate the different species back together,
but it has resulted in unexpected relationships between many members
of this group, such as yak being related to American bison, when such
relationships would otherwise not be apparent.
A 2003 study of mitochondrial DNA indicated four distinct maternal
lineages in tribe Bovini:
Taurine cattle and zebu
Wisent (European bison)
American bison and yak
Banteng, gaur, and gayal
Y chromosome analysis associated wisent and American
bison. An earlier study using amplified fragment length
polymorphism fingerprinting showed a close association of wisent and
American bison and probably with yak, but noted that the interbreeding
Bovini species made determining relationships problematic. It
is shown, however, the wisent may have emerged by species divergence
initiated by the introgression of bison bulls in a separate ancestral
species, the aurochs.
Last of the Canadian Bisons, 1902, photograph: Steele and Company
The steppe bison (
Bison priscus) diverged from the lineage that led to
Bos taurus) about 2 to 5 million years ago. The bison genus is
clearly in the fossil record by 2 million years ago. The steppe
bison spread across Eurasia and was the bison that was pictured in the
ancient cave paintings of Spain and Southern France.
European bison arose from the steppe bison, without fossil
evidence of other ancestral species between the steppe bison and the
European bison, though the
European bison might have arisen from the
lineage that led to
American bison if that lineage backcrossed with
the steppe bison. Again, the web of relationships is confusing, but
some evidence shows the
European bison is descended from bison that
had migrated from Asia to North America, and then back to Europe,
where they crossbred with existing steppe bison.
At one point, some steppe bison crossbred with the ancestors of the
modern yak. After that cross, a population of steppe bison (Bison
priscus) crossed the
Bering Land Bridge
Bering Land Bridge to North America. Evidence has
been found of multiple crossings of bison to and from Asia starting
before 500,000 years ago and continuing until at least 220,000 years
ago. The steppe bison spread through the northern parts of North
America and lived in Eurasia until roughly 11,000 years ago and
North America until 4,000 to 8,000 years ago.
Bison latifrons (giant bison or longhorn bison) is thought to have
evolved in midcontinent
North America from B. priscus, after the
steppe bison crossed into North America. Giant bison (B.
latifrons) appeared in the fossil record around 500,000 years ago.
B. latifrons was one of many species of North American megafauna which
became extinct during the Quaternary extinction event. It is thought
to have disappeared some 21,000–30,000 years ago, during the late
The B. latifrons species was replaced by the smaller
B. antiquus appeared in the North American fossil record approximately
250,000 years ago. B. antiquus, in turn, evolved into B.
occidentalis, then into the yet smaller B. bison—the modern American
bison—some 5,000 to 10,000 years ago. Some researchers
consider B. occidentalis to be a subspecies of B. antiquus.
American bison skulls to be used for fertilizer in the
During the population bottleneck, after the great slaughter of
American bison during the 1800s, the number of bison remaining alive
North America declined to as low as 541. During that period, a
handful of ranchers gathered remnants of the existing herds to save
the species from extinction. These ranchers bred some of the bison
with cattle in an effort to produce "cattlo". Accidental crossings
were also known to occur. Generally, male domestic bulls were crossed
with buffalo cows, producing offspring of which only the females were
fertile. The crossbred animals did not demonstrate any form of hybrid
vigor, so the practice was abandoned. The proportion of cattle DNA
that has been measured in introgressed individuals and bison herds
today is typically quite low, ranging from 0.56 to 1.8%. In
the United States, many ranchers are now using DNA testing to cull the
residual cattle genetics from their bison herds. The U.S. National
Bison Association has adopted a code of ethics which prohibits its
members from deliberately crossbreeding bison with any other species.
Range and population
Bison herd grazing at the National
Bison Range in Montana
Despite being the closest relatives of domestic cattle native to North
America, bison were never domesticated by Native Americans. Later
attempts of domestication by Europeans prior to the 20th century met
with limited success.
Bison were described as having a "wild and
ungovernable temper"; they can jump close to 6 ft
(1.8 m) vertically, and run 35–40 mph
(56–64 km/h) when agitated. This agility and speed, combined
with their great size and weight, makes bison herds difficult to
confine, as they can easily escape or destroy most fencing systems,
including most razor wire.
About 500,000 bison currently exist on private lands and around 30,000
on public lands which includes environmental and government
preserves. According to the IUCN, roughly 15,000 bison are
considered wild, free-range bison not primarily confined by
fencing. In 2009, bison were reintroduced to the Janos Biosphere
Reserve in northern Chihuahua; this is the only free-roaming herd on
Mexican federal land. Efforts to bring back the bison population have
recently reintroduced bison to Indiana, which included the
introduction of a herd consisting of 23 bison. In 2014, U.S Tribes and
Canadian First Nations signed a treaty to help with the restoration of
bison, the first to be signed in nearly 150 years.
A group of bison trudge across the landscape at the National Elk
See also: Great bison belt
American bison live in river valleys, and on prairies and plains.
Typical habitat is open or semiopen grasslands, as well as sagebrush,
semiarid lands, and scrublands. Some lightly wooded areas are also
known historically to have supported bison.
Bison also graze in hilly
or mountainous areas where the slopes are not steep. Though not
particularly known as high-altitude animals, bison in the Yellowstone
Park bison herd are frequently found at elevations above 8,000 feet
Henry Mountains bison herd
Henry Mountains bison herd is found on the plains around the
Henry Mountains, Utah, as well as in mountain valleys of the Henry
Mountains to an altitude of 10,000 feet.
Bison are increasingly raised for meat and hides; the majority of
American bison in the world are raised for human consumption. Bison
meat is generally considered to taste very similar to beef, but is
lower in fat and cholesterol, yet higher in protein than beef,
which has led to the development of beefalo, a fertile hybrid of bison
and domestic cattle. In 2005, about 35,000 bison were
processed for meat in the U.S., with the National
and USDA providing a "Certified American Buffalo" program with
birth-to-consumer tracking of bison via RFID ear tags. A market even
exists for kosher bison meat; these bison are slaughtered at one of
the few kosher mammal slaughterhouses in the U.S., and the meat is
then distributed nationwide.
Bison meat for sale
Bison are found in publicly and privately held herds. Custer State
South Dakota is home to 1,500 bison, one of the largest
publicly held herds in the world, but some question the genetic purity
of the animals. Wildlife officials believe that free roaming and
genetically pure herds on public lands in
North America can be found
only in the Yellowstone Park bison herd, the
Henry Mountains bison
herd at the
Book Cliffs and
Henry Mountains in Utah, at Wind Cave
National Park in South Dakota,
Fort Peck Indian Reservation
Fort Peck Indian Reservation in
Bison Sanctuary in the Northwest Territories, Elk
Island National Park and
Wood Buffalo National Park
Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta, and
Prince Albert National Park
Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan. Another population, the
Antelope Island bison herd
Antelope Island bison herd on
Antelope Island in Utah, consisting of
550 to 700 bison, is also one of the largest and oldest public herds
in the United States, but the bison in that herd are considered to be
only semifree roaming, since they are confined to the Antelope Island.
In addition, recent genetic studies indicate that, like most bison
Antelope Island bison herd
Antelope Island bison herd has a small number of genes from
domestic cattle. In 2002, the
United States government donated some
bison calves from
South Dakota and Colorado to the Mexican government.
Their descendants live in the Mexican nature reserves El Uno Ranch at
Janos and Santa Elena Canyon, Chihuahua, and Boquillas del Carmen,
Coahuila, located near the southern banks of the Rio Grande, and
around the grassland state line with
Texas and New Mexico.
Recent genetic studies of privately owned herds of bison show that
many of them include animals with genes from domestic cattle. For
example, the herd on Santa Catalina Island, California, isolated since
1924 after being brought there for a movie shoot, were found to have
cattle introgression. As few as 12,000 to 15,000 pure bison are
estimated to remain in the world. The numbers are uncertain because
the tests used to date—mitochondrial DNA analysis—indicate only if
the maternal line (back from mother to mother) ever included
domesticated bovines, thus say nothing about possible male input in
the process. Most hybrids were found to look exactly like purebred
bison; therefore, appearance is not a good indicator of genetics.
The size of the Canadian domesticated herd (genetic questions aside)
grew dramatically through the 1990s and 2000s. The 2006 Census of
Agriculture reported the Canadian herd at 195,728 head, a 34.9%
increase since 2001. Of this total, over 95% was located in
Western Canada, and less than 5% in Eastern Canada.
Alberta was the
province with the largest herd, accounting for 49.7% of the herd and
45.8% of the farms. The next-largest herds were in Saskatchewan
Manitoba (10%), and British Columbia (6%). The main producing
regions were in the northern parts of the Canadian prairies,
specifically in the parkland belt, with the
Peace River region
Peace River region (shared
Alberta and British Columbia) being the most important
cluster, accounting for 14.4% of the national herd. Canada also
exports bison meat, totaling 2,075,253 kilograms (4,575,150 lb)
A proposal known as
Buffalo Commons has been suggested by a handful of
academics and policymakers to restore large parts of the drier portion
Great Plains to native prairie grazed by bison. Proponents
argue that current agricultural use of the shortgrass prairie is not
sustainable, pointing to periodic disasters, including the Dust Bowl,
and continuing significant human population loss over the last 60
years. However, this plan is opposed by some who live in the areas in
Behavior and ecology
Herd of bison in Yellowstone National Park
Grazing in winter, Yellowstone National Park:
Bison use their heads to
clear out snow for the grass.
American bison galloping, photos by Eadweard Muybridge, first
published in 1887 in
Bison are migratory and herd migrations can be directional as well as
altitudinal in some areas.
Bison have usual daily
movements between foraging sites during the summer. In a montane
valley, bison have been recorded traveling, on average, 2 miles
(3.2 km) per day. The summer ranges of bison appear to be
influenced by seasonal vegetation changes, interspersion and size of
foraging sites, the rut, and the number of biting insects. The
size of preserve and availability of water may also be a factor.
Bison are largely grazers, eating primarily grasses and sedges. On
shortgrass pasture, bison predominately consume warm-season
grasses. On mixed prairie, cool-season grasses, including some
sedges, apparently compose 79–96% of their diet. In montane and
northern areas, sedges are selected throughout the year. Bison
also drink water or consume snow on a daily basis.
Social behavior and reproduction
Bison fighting in
Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park in Moose, Wyoming
Female bison live in maternal herds which include other females and
their offspring. Male offspring leave their maternal herd when around
three years old and either live alone or join other males in bachelor
herds. Male and female herds usually do not mingle until the breeding
season, which can occur from July through September. However,
female herds may also contain a few older males. During the breeding
season, dominant bulls maintain a small harem of females for mating.
Individual bulls "tend" cows until allowed to mate, by following them
around and chasing away rival males. The tending bull shields the
female's vision with his body so she will not see any other
challenging males. A challenging bull may bellow or roar to get a
female's attention and the tending bull has to bellow/roar back.
The most dominant bulls mate in the first 2–3 weeks of the
season. More subordinate bulls mate with any remaining estrous cow
that has not mated yet. Male bison play no part in raising the young.
Bison herds have dominance hierarchies that exist for both males and
females. A bison's dominance is related to its birth date. Bison
born earlier in the breeding season are more likely to be larger and
more dominant as adults. Thus, bison are able to pass on their
dominance to their offspring as dominant bison breed earlier in the
season. In addition to dominance, the older bison of a generation also
have a higher fertility rate than the younger ones.
Bison mate in August and September; gestation is 285 days. A single
reddish-brown calf nurses until the next calf is born. If the cow is
not pregnant, a calf will nurse for 18 months. Cows nurse their calves
for at least 7 or 8 months, but most calves seem to be weaned before
the end of their first year. At three years of age, bison cows are
mature enough to produce a calf.
Bison have a life expectancy around 15 years in the wild and up to 25
years in captivity.
Bison have been observed to display homosexual behaviors, males much
more so than females. In the case of males, it is unlikely to be
related to dominance, but rather to social bonding or gaining sexual
Bison mate in late spring and summer in more open plain areas. During
fall and winter, bison tend to gather in more wooded areas. During
this time, bison partake in horning behaviors. They rub their horns
against trees, young saplings, and even utility poles. Aromatic trees
like cedars and pine seem to be preferred. Horning appears to be
associated with insect defense, as it occurs most often in the fall
when the insect population is at its highest. Cedar and pines emit
an aroma after bison horn them and this seems to be used as a
deterrent for insects.
A bison wallow is a shallow depression in the soil, which bison use
either wet or dry.
Bison roll in these depressions, covering
themselves with dust or mud. Past and current hypotheses to explain
the purpose of wallowing include grooming associated with shedding,
male-male interaction (typically rutting), social behavior for group
cohesion, play, relief from skin irritation due to biting insects,
reduction of ectoparasite (tick and lice) load, and
American bison standing its ground against a wolf pack.
Bison Demonstration at Wolf Park, Indiana.
While often secure from predation because of their size and strength,
in some areas, bison are regularly preyed upon by wolves. Wolf
predation typically peaks in late spring and early summer, with
attacks usually being concentrated on cows and calves. Wolves more
actively target herds with calves than those without. The length of a
predation episode varies, ranging from a few minutes to over nine
Bison display five apparent defense strategies in
protecting calves from wolves: running to a cow, running to a herd,
running to the nearest bull, running in the front or center of a
stampeding herd, and entering water bodies such as lakes or rivers.
When fleeing wolves in open areas, cows with young calves take the
lead, while bulls take to the rear of the herds, to guard the cows'
Bison typically ignore wolves not displaying hunting
behavior. Wolf packs specializing in bison tend to have more
males, because their larger size than females allows them to wrestle
prey to the ground more effectively. Healthy, mature bulls in
herds rarely fall prey. Grizzly bears can also pose a threat to calves
and sometimes old, injured, or sick adult bison.
Dangers to humans
Bison are among the most dangerous animals encountered by visitors to
the various North American national parks and will attack humans if
provoked. They appear slow because of their lethargic movements, but
can easily outrun humans; bison have been observed running as fast as
40 mph (64 km/h).
Between 1980 and 1999, more than three times as many people in
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park were injured by bison than by bears. During
this period, bison charged and injured 79 people, with injuries
ranging from goring puncture wounds and broken bones to bruises and
abrasions. Bears injured 24 people during the same time. Three people
died from the injuries inflicted—one person by bison in 1983, and
two people by bears in 1984 and 1986.
Map from 1889 by William T. Hornaday, illustrating the Extermination
of the American Bison
Bison hunt under the wolf-skin mask, 1832–33
Bison being chased off a cliff as “seen” and painted by Alfred
Buffalo hunting (hunting of the American bison) was an activity
fundamental to the Midwestern Native Americans, which was later
adopted by American professional hunters, leading to the
near-extinction of the species around 1890. It has since begun to
Range history of bison in North America
Original distribution of plains bison and wood bison in North America
along the "Great bison belt".
Holocene bison (
Bison occidentalis) is
an earlier form at the origin of plains bison and wood bison.
Map of the extermination of the bison to 1889. This map based on
William Temple Hornaday's late-19th century research.
Range as of 1870
Range as of 1889
Distribution of public herds of plains bison and of free-ranging or
captive breeding wood bison in
North America as of 2003.
A major problem that bison face today is a lack of genetic diversity
due to the population bottleneck the species experienced during its
near-extinction event. Another genetic issue is the entry of genes
from domestic cattle into the bison population, through
Officially, the "American buffalo" is classified by the United States
government as a type of cattle, and the government allows private
herds to be managed as such. This is a reflection of the
characteristics that bison share with cattle. Though the American
bison is not only a separate species, but also is usually regarded as
being in a separate genus from domestic cattle (
Bos taurus), they
clearly have a lot of genetic compatibility and
American bison can
interbreed with cattle, although only the female offspring are fertile
in the first generation. These female hybrids can be bred back to
either bison or domestic bulls, resulting in either 1/4 or 3/4 bison
young. Female offspring from this cross are also fertile, but males
are not reliably fertile unless they are either 7⁄8 bison or
7⁄8 domestic. Moreover, when they do interbreed, crossbreed
animals in the first generation tend to look very much like purebred
bison, so appearance is completely unreliable as a means of
determining what is a purebred bison and what is a crossbred cow. Many
ranchers have deliberately crossbred their cattle with bison, and some
natural hybridization could be expected in areas where cattle and
bison occur in the same range. Since cattle and bison eat similar food
and tolerate similar conditions, they have often been in the same
range together in the past, and opportunity for crossbreeding may
sometimes have been common.
In recent decades, tests were developed to determine the source of
mitochondrial DNA in cattle and bison, and most private "buffalo"
herds were actually crossbred with cattle, and even most state and
federal buffalo herds had some cattle DNA. With the advent of nuclear
microsatellite DNA testing, the number of herds known to contain
cattle genes has increased. Though about 500,000 bison exist on
private ranches and in public herds, perhaps only 15,000 to 25,000 of
these bison are pure and not actually bison-cattle hybrids. "DNA from
domestic cattle (
Bos taurus) has been detected in nearly all bison
herds examined to date." Significant public bison herds that do
not appear to have hybridized domestic cattle genes are the
Yellowstone Park bison herd, the
Henry Mountains bison herd, which was
started with bison taken from Yellowstone Park, the Wind Cave bison
herd, and the
Wood Buffalo National Park
Wood Buffalo National Park bison herd and subsidiary
herds started from it, in Canada.
A landmark study of bison genetics performed by James Derr of Texas
A&M University corroborated this. The Derr study was
undertaken in an attempt to determine what genetic problems bison
might face as they repopulate former areas, and it noted that bison
seem to be adapting successfully, despite their apparent genetic
bottleneck. One possible explanation for this might be the small
amount of domestic cattle genes that are now in most bison
populations, though this is not the only possible explanation for
A wood bison around Coal River in Canada
In the study, cattle genes were also found in small amounts throughout
most national, state and private herds. "The hybridization experiments
conducted by some of the owners of the five foundation herds of the
late 1800s, have left a legacy of a small amount of cattle genetics in
many of our existing bison herds." He also said, "All of the state
owned bison herds tested (except for possibly one) contain animals
with domestic cattle mtDNA." It appears that the one state herd
that had no cattle genes was the
Henry Mountains bison herd; the Henry
Mountain herd was started initially with transplanted animals from
Yellowstone Park. However, the extension of this herd into the Book
Cliffs of central Utah involved mixing the founders with additional
bison from another source, so it is not known if the Book Cliffs
extension of the herd is also free of cattle hybridization.
A separate study by Wilson and Strobeck, published in Genome, was done
to define the relationships between different herds of bison in the
United States and Canada, and to determine whether the bison at Wood
Buffalo National Park in Canada and the Yellowstone Park bison herd
were possibly separate subspecies. The Wood Buffalo Park bison were
determined to actually be crossbreeds between plains and wood bison,
but their predominant genetic makeup was that of the expected "wood
buffalo". However, the
Yellowstone Park bison herd
Yellowstone Park bison herd was pure plains
bison, and not any of the other previously suggested subspecies.
Another finding was that the bison in the
Antelope Island herd in Utah
appeared to be more distantly related to other plains bison in general
than any other plains bison group that was tested, though this might
be due to genetic drift caused by the small size of only 12
individuals in the founder population. A side finding of this was that
Antelope Island bison herd
Antelope Island bison herd appears to be most closely related to
Wood Buffalo National Park
Wood Buffalo National Park bison herd, though the Antelope Island
bison are actually plains bison.
The first thoroughfares of North America, except for the
time-obliterated paths of mastodon or muskox and the routes of the
mound builders, were the traces made by bison and deer in seasonal
migration and between feeding grounds and salt licks. Many of these
routes, hammered by countless hoofs instinctively following watersheds
and the crests of ridges in avoidance of lower places' summer muck and
winter snowdrifts, were followed by the aboriginal North Americans as
courses to hunting grounds and as warriors' paths. They were
invaluable to explorers and were adopted by pioneers.
Bison traces were characteristically north and south, but several key
east-west trails were used later as railways. Some of these include
Cumberland Gap through the
Blue Ridge Mountains
Blue Ridge Mountains to upper Kentucky.
A heavily used trace crossed the
Ohio River at the Falls of the Ohio
and ran west, crossing the
Wabash River near Vincennes, Indiana. In
Senator Thomas Hart Benton's phrase saluting these sagacious
path-makers, the bison paved the way for the railroads to the
As a symbol
Among Native American tribes, especially the Plains Indians, the bison
is considered a sacred animal and religious symbol. According to
University of Montana anthropology and Native American studies
professor S. Neyooxet Greymorning, "The creation stories of where
buffalo came from put them in a very spiritual place among many
tribes. The buffalo crossed many different areas and functions, and it
was utilized in many ways. It was used in ceremonies, as well as to
make tipi covers that provided homes for people, utensils, shields,
weapons and parts were used for sewing with the sinew." The Sioux
consider the birth of a white buffalo to be the return of White
Buffalo Calf Woman, their primary cultural prophet and the bringer of
their "Seven Sacred Rites". Among the
Mandan and Hidatsa, the White
Buffalo Cow Society was the most sacred of societies for women.
Wyoming uses a bison in its state flag
Manitoba uses a bison in its provincial flag, as seen inside the
Manitoban coat of arms
The 1935 Buffalo nickel—this style of coin featuring an American
bison was produced from 1913 to 1938
Series 1901 $10 legal tender depicting military explorers Meriwether
Lewis, William Clark, and an American bison
First postage stamp with image of bison was issued US in 1898—4¢
"Indian Hunting Buffalo", part of the Trans-Mississippi Exposition
American bison is often used in
North America in official seals,
flags, and logos. In 2016, the
American bison became the national
mammal of the United States. The bison is a popular symbol in the
Great Plains states: Kansas, Oklahoma, and
Wyoming have adopted the
animal as their official state mammal, and many sports teams have
chosen the bison as their mascot. In Canada, the bison is the official
animal of the province of
Manitoba and appears on the
It is also used in the official coat of arms of the Royal Canadian
Several American coins feature the bison, most famously on the reverse
side of the "buffalo nickel" from 1913 to 1938. In 2005, the United
States Mint coined a nickel with a new depiction of the bison as part
of its "Westward Journey" series. The Kansas and North Dakota state
quarters, part of the "50 State Quarter" series, each feature bison.
The Kansas state quarter has only the bison and does not feature any
writing, while the North Dakota state quarter has two bison. The
Montana state quarter prominently features a bison skull over a
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park quarter also features a bison
standing next to a geyser.
Other institutions which have adopted the bison as a symbol or mascot
U.S. Department of the Interior
Bethany College (West Virginia)
Bucknell University and its athletic program, the Bucknell Bison
Buffalo, New York
Buffalo Grove High School
University at Buffalo, The State University of New York and its
athletic program, the Buffalo Bulls
University of Colorado and its athletic program, the Colorado
Harding University and its athletic program, the Harding Bisons
Howard University and its athletic program, the Howard Bison
Seal of the State of Indiana
Lipscomb University and its athletic program, the Lipscomb Bisons
Coat of arms of Manitoba
Flag of Manitoba
Manitoba and its athletic program, the
Marshall University and its athletic program, the Marshall Thundering
Independence Party of Minnesota
Ralph Nader (mascot for his 2008 campaign for president)
North Dakota State University
North Dakota State University and its athletic program, the North
Dakota State Bison
Oklahoma Baptist University and its athletic program, the Oklahoma
Point Park University
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Bison (the official mascot of the
Oklahoma City Thunder)
Southwestern Law School
Texas A&M University and its athletic program, the West Texas
Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
Buffalo Commons — proposed multistate nature preserve of Great
Plains habitat for American bison
Great Plains Ecoregion
Buffalo Hunters' War
Plains hide painting
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Wikispecies has information related to
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Bison bison (category)
Wikibooks Cookbook has a recipe/module on
Bison bison". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved
March 18, 2006.
Buffalo Field Campaign
American bison by The Nature Conservancy
Bison safety information at
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park from the
National Park Service
The Extermination of the American Bison, by William T. Hornaday from
Bison Reference Project -Collaborative Bibliography for the
Conservation, Management and Advocacy of Wild Bison
Papers, 1871–1917 and undated, of buffalo hunter John Wesley Mooar
in the Southwest Collection,
Special Collections Libraries at Texas
Watch the NFB documentary The Great Buffalo Saga
Traditional use of Tatanka (buffalo)
Smithsonian Institution – North American Mammals:
Bison skeletal structure and bones
Public television series episode on history of American Bison
Extant Artiodactyla species
Pronghorn (A. americana)
Okapi (O. johnstoni)
Northern giraffe (G. camelopardalis)
Southern giraffe (G. giraffa)
Reticulated giraffe (G. reticulata)
Masai giraffe (G. tippelskirchi)
Anhui musk deer
Anhui musk deer (M. anhuiensis)
Dwarf musk deer
Dwarf musk deer (M. berezovskii)
Alpine musk deer
Alpine musk deer (M. chrysogaster)
Kashmir musk deer
Kashmir musk deer (M. cupreus)
Black musk deer
Black musk deer (M. fuscus)
Himalayan musk deer (M. leucogaster)
Siberian musk deer
Siberian musk deer (M. moschiferus)
Water chevrotain (H. aquaticus)
Indian spotted chevrotain
Indian spotted chevrotain (M. indica)
Yellow-striped chevrotain (M. kathygre)
Sri Lankan spotted chevrotain
Sri Lankan spotted chevrotain (M. meminna)
Java mouse-deer (T. javanicus)
Lesser mouse-deer (T. kanchil)
Greater mouse-deer (T. napu)
Philippine mouse-deer (T. nigricans)
Vietnam mouse-deer (T. versicolor)
Williamson's mouse-deer (T. williamsoni)
Large family listed below
Large family listed below
Indian muntjac (M. muntjak)
Reeves's muntjac (M. reevesi)
Hairy-fronted muntjac (M. crinifrons)
Fea's muntjac (M. feae)
Bornean yellow muntjac
Bornean yellow muntjac (M. atherodes)
Roosevelt's muntjac (M. rooseveltorum)
Gongshan muntjac (M. gongshanensis)
Giant muntjac (M. vuquangensis)
Truong Son muntjac
Truong Son muntjac (M. truongsonensis)
Leaf muntjac (M. putaoensis)
Sumatran muntjac (M. montanus)
Pu Hoat muntjac
Pu Hoat muntjac (M. puhoatensis)
Tufted deer (E. cephalophus)
Fallow deer (D. dama)
Persian fallow deer
Persian fallow deer (D. mesopotamica)
Chital (A. axis)
Barasingha (R. duvaucelii)
Eld's deer (P. eldii)
Père David's deer
Père David's deer (E. davidianus)
Hog deer (H. porcinus)
Calamian deer (H. calamianensis)
Bawean deer (H. kuhlii)
Sambar deer (R. unicolor)
Rusa deer (R. timorensis)
Philippine sambar (R. mariannus)
Philippine spotted deer (R. alfredi)
Red deer (C. elaphus)
Elk (C. canadensis)
Thorold's deer (C. albirostris)
Sika deer (C. nippon)
Moose (A. alces)
Water deer (H. inermis)
Roe deer (C. capreolus)
Siberian roe deer
Siberian roe deer (C. pygargus)
Reindeer (R. tarandus)
Taruca (H. antisensis)
South Andean deer
South Andean deer (H. bisulcus)
Red brocket (M. americana)
Small red brocket
Small red brocket (M. bororo)
Merida brocket (M. bricenii)
Dwarf brocket (M. chunyi)
Gray brocket (M. gouazoubira)
Pygmy brocket (M. nana)
Amazonian brown brocket
Amazonian brown brocket (M. nemorivaga)
Yucatan brown brocket
Yucatan brown brocket (M. pandora)
Little red brocket
Little red brocket (M. rufina)
Central American red brocket
Central American red brocket (M. temama)
Pampas deer (O. bezoarticus)
Marsh deer (B. dichotomus)
Northern pudú (P. mephistophiles)
Southern pudú (P. pudu)
White-tailed deer (O. virginianus)
Mule deer (O. hemionus)
Abbott's duiker (C. spadix)
Aders's duiker (C. adersi)
Bay duiker (C. dorsalis)
Black duiker (C. niger)
Black-fronted duiker (C. nigrifrons)
Brooke's duiker (C. brookei)
Harvey's duiker (C. harveyi)
Jentink's duiker (C. jentinki)
Ogilby's duiker (C. ogilbyi)
Peters's duiker (C. callipygus)
Red-flanked duiker (C. rufilatus)
Red forest duiker
Red forest duiker (C. natalensis)
Ruwenzori duiker (C. rubidis)
Weyns's duiker (C. weynsi)
White-bellied duiker (C. leucogaster)
White-legged duiker (C. crusalbum)
Yellow-backed duiker (C. Sylvicultor)
Zebra duiker (C. zebra)
Blue duiker (P. monticola)
Maxwell's duiker (P. maxwellii)
Walter's duiker (P. walteri)
Common duiker (S. grimmia)
Roan antelope (H. equinus)
Sable antelope (H. niger)
East African oryx
East African oryx (O. beisa)
Scimitar oryx (O. dammah)
Gemsbok (O. gazella)
Arabian oryx (O. leucoryx)
Addax (A. nasomaculatus)
Upemba lechwe (K. anselli)
Waterbuck (K. ellipsiprymnus)
Kob (K. kob)
Lechwe (K. leche)
Nile lechwe (K. megaceros)
Puku (K. vardonii)
Southern reedbuck (R. arundinum)
Mountain reedbuck (R. fulvorufula)
Bohor reedbuck (R. redunca)
Impala (A. melampus)
Grey rhebok (P. capreolus)
Hirola (B. hunteri)
Topi (D. korrigum)
Common tsessebe (D. lunatus)
Bontebok (D. pygargus)
Bangweulu tsessebe (D. superstes)
Hartebeest (A. buselaphus)
Red hartebeest (A. caama)
Lichtenstein's hartebeest (A. lichtensteinii)
Black wildebeest (C. gnou)
Blue wildebeest (C. taurinus)
Tibetan antelope (P. hodgsonii)
Large subfamily listed below
Large subfamily listed below
Large subfamily listed below
Bovidae (subfamily Caprinae)
Barbary sheep (A. lervia)
Takin (B. taxicolor)
Wild goat (C. aegagrus)
Domestic goat (C. aegagrus hircus)
West Caucasian tur
West Caucasian tur (C. caucasia)
East Caucasian tur
East Caucasian tur (C. cylindricornis)
Markhor (C. falconeri)
Alpine ibex (C. ibex)
Nubian ibex (C. nubiana)
Spanish ibex (C. pyrenaica)
Siberian ibex (C. sibirica)
Walia ibex (C. walie)
Japanese serow (C. crispus)
Taiwan serow (C. swinhoei)
Sumatran serow (C. sumatraensis)
Mainland serow (C. milneedwardsii)
Red serow (C. rubidusi)
Himalayan serow (C. thar)
Nilgiri tahr (H. hylocrius)
Arabian tahr (H. jayakari)
Himalayan tahr (H. jemlahicus)
Red goral (N. baileyi)
Long-tailed goral (N. caudatus)
Himalayan goral (N. goral)
Chinese goral (N. griseus)
Mountain goat (O. americanus)
Muskox (O. moschatus)
Argali (O. ammon)
Domestic sheep (O. aries)
Bighorn sheep (O. canadensis)
Dall sheep (O. dalli)
Mouflon (O. musimon)
Snow sheep (O. nivicola)
Urial (O. orientalis)
Bharal (P. nayaur)
Dwarf blue sheep
Dwarf blue sheep (P. schaeferi)
Pyrenean chamois (R. pyrenaica)
Chamois (R. rupicapra)
Bovidae (subfamily Bovinae)
Four-horned antelope (T. quadricornis)
Nilgai (B. tragocamelus)
Water buffalo (B. bubalis)
Wild Water Buffalo (B. arnee)
Lowland anoa (B. depressicornis)
Mountain anoa (B. quarlesi)
Tamaraw (B. mindorensis)
Banteng (B. javanicus)
Gaur (B. gaurus)
Gayal (B. frontalis)
Domestic yak (B. grunniens)
Wild yak (B. mutus)
Cattle (B. taurus)
Kouprey (B. sauveli)
Kting voar (P. spiralis)
Saola (P. nghetinhensis)
African buffalo (S. caffer)
American bison (B. bison)
European bison (B. bonasus)
Sitatunga (T. spekeii)
Nyala (T. angasii)
Kéwel (T. scriptus)
Cape bushbuck (T. sylvaticus)
Mountain nyala (T. buxtoni)
Lesser kudu (T. imberbis)
Greater kudu (T. strepsiceros)
Bongo (T. eurycerus)
Common eland (T. oryx)
Giant eland (T. derbianus)
Bovidae (subfamily Antilopinae)
Dibatag (A. clarkei)
Springbok (A. marsupialis)
Blackbuck (A. cervicapra)
Mongalla gazelle (E. albonotata)
Red-fronted gazelle (E. rufifrons)
Thomson's gazelle (E. thomsonii)
Heuglin's gazelle (E. tilonura)
Mountain gazelle (G. gazella)
Neumann's gazelle (G. erlangeri)
Speke's gazelle (G. spekei)
Dorcas gazelle (G. dorcas)
Chinkara (G. bennettii)
Cuvier's gazelle (G. cuvieri)
Rhim gazelle (G. leptoceros)
Goitered gazelle (G. subgutturosa)
Gerenuk (L. walleri)
Dama gazelle (N. dama)
Grant's gazelle (N. granti)
Soemmerring's gazelle (N. soemmerringii)
Mongolian gazelle (P. gutturosa)
Goa (P. picticaudata)
Przewalski's gazelle (P. przewalskii)
Tibetan antelope (P. hodgsonii)
Saiga antelope (S. tatarica)
Beira (D. megalotis)
Günther's dik-dik (M. guentheri)
Kirk's dik-dik (M. kirkii)
Silver dik-dik (M. piacentinii)
Salt's dik-dik (M. saltiana)
Bates's pygmy antelope
Bates's pygmy antelope (N. batesi)
Suni (N. moschatus)
Royal antelope (N. pygmaeus)
Klipspringer (O. oreotragus)
Oribi (O. ourebi)
Steenbok (R. campestris)
Cape grysbok (R. melanotis)
Sharpe's grysbok (R. sharpei)
Buru babirusa (B. babyrussa)
North Sulawesi babirusa
North Sulawesi babirusa (B. celebensis)
Togian babirusa (B. togeanensis)
Giant forest hog
Giant forest hog (H. meinertzhageni)
Desert warthog (P. aethiopicus)
Common warthog (P. africanus)
Pygmy hog (P. salvania)
Bushpig (P. larvatus)
Red river hog
Red river hog (P. porcus)
Palawan bearded pig
Palawan bearded pig (S. ahoenobarbus)
Bornean bearded pig
Bornean bearded pig (S. barbatus)
Indo-chinese warty pig (S. bucculentus)
Visayan warty pig
Visayan warty pig (S. cebifrons)
Celebes warty pig
Celebes warty pig (S. celebensis)
Flores warty pig (S. heureni)
Oliver's warty pig
Oliver's warty pig (S. oliveri)
Philippine warty pig
Philippine warty pig (S. philippensis)
Wild boar (S. scrofa)
Timor warty pig (S. timoriensis)
Javan warty pig
Javan warty pig (S. verrucosus)
White-lipped peccary (T. pecari)
Chacoan peccary (C. wagneri)
Collared peccary (P. tajacu)
Giant peccary (P. maximus)
Llama (L. glama)
Guanaco (L. guanicoe)
Vicuña (V. vicugna)
Alpaca (V. pacos)
Dromedary (C. dromedarius)
Bactrian camel (C. bactrianus)
Bactrian camel (C. ferus)
Whippomorpha (unranked clade)
Hippopotamus (H. amphibius)
Pygmy hippopotamus (C. liberiensis)
National symbols of the United States
Flag of the United States
Seal of the United States
General Grant (tree)
Pledge of Allegiance
"The Star-Spangled Banner"
"America the Beautiful"
"The Stars and Stripes Forever"
"Hail to the Chief"
"My Country, 'Tis of Thee"
"God Bless America"
"Lift Every Voice and Sing"
"The Army Goes Rolling Along"
"The Air Force Song"
"The Washington Post March"
"Battle Hymn of the Republic"
"You're a Grand Old Flag"
"When Johnny Comes Marching Home"
"This Land Is Your Land"
In God We Trust
E Pluribus Unum
Novus ordo seclorum
Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World)
West Potomac Park
Game animals and shooting in North America
Snipe (common snipe)
Cougar (mountain lion)
Big game hunting
Black soldier fly maggots
Lamb and mutton
Cuts and preparation
Fillet / Supreme
Countries by meat consumption
Food and drink prohibitions
Ethics of eating meat
Feed conversion ratio
Environmental impact of meat production
List of meat dishes
Psychology of eating meat