Bison vs. Buffalo

Bison and Buffalo both belong to the same phylum chordate but differ in terms of appearance. Bison has a large hump just after the shoulders and has a beard, whereas Buffalo does not have a hump and has a plain back with no beard on his face.

Bison have a large head which makes him look more prominent, whereas the Buffalo has a smaller head making him a junior to Bison. They differ in their body shapes as the Bison has a large hump at his back, making the plow the perfect place. Buffalo does not have any hump. The other most visible difference is the size of their horns. Buffalo generally has longhorns that are extended. On the other hand, Bison has small-sized horns that are not much extended. Bison is the one possessing a beard. On the contrary, Buffalo does not have a beard.

Bison and Buffalo both differ in the type of their skin. Bison has a thick, double-layered skin that allows him to survive extreme atmospheric conditions. Buffalo has sleek and smooth skin as they do not face weather extremes. Bison is generally heavier than a Buffalo; roughly, it weighs about 10,000 kilograms. Interestingly, Bison shed his rough skin in summers to get rid of heat. Buffalo has a skin adjustable to temperature. The two main species of Bison are European or American Bison, whereas the species of Buffalo are African and Cape buffalo.

Comparison chart

 BisonBuffalo
Head sizeBigger headSmall head
HumpPresentAbsent
Horn sizeSmall-sized hornsExtended/ elongated horns
BeardPresentAbsent
Skin typeRough and double-layered skinSmooth and sleek skin
WeightAbout 10,000 kilogramsGenerally, less than 10,000 kilograms, but water buffalo weighs about 12,000 kilograms.
SheddingShed skin in summer.Do not shed skin.
SpeciesEuropean and American BisonAfrican and Cape Buffalo

What is Bison?

Bison is a species belonging to the phylum chordate. They originally lived in the plains of North America and India, where they were widely hunted for meat and skin purposes. They have a mass of skin generally known as a hump just below the shoulders and possess rough skin, increasing their ability to survive a harsh environment. They also have a hairy beard that covers their face and small-sized sharp horns.

Male and female Bison differ in their physique. Males generally have a long beard and are 3.8 to 3.6 meters in length and 1.7m tall, whereas females are 3.4 t0 2.5 meters in length and have almost the same height as males. The reproductive season is summer, and females give birth to one or two cubs after a nine-month pregnancy. The reproductive ages for females and males differ. Females are reproductive at the age of two to three years, whereas bulls are matured at the age of three to six years.

The most interesting is their age and habitat. They generally live in groups of same-aged species, and the normal lifespan is 15 to 20 years. They have ranks in them and fight for survival. Those who are strong enough breed for long. They primarily feed on grass and live in grasslands though they are also found in semi-desert areas.

What is Buffalo?

Buffalos are traced back to Asia and Africa. Though they inhabited plains initially, they also moved towards forests and places nearby rivers. They primarily feed on grass and plants and are raised by people for meat, skin, and bones used for various purposes. They live for about 13 to 17 years of age and are generally mature at the age of three, where the female delivers calf after nine months of pregnancy. Humans have utilized them for various purposes for over 5 to 6 thousand years.

Buffalo are adamantly built, and they are considered to be belonging to the family of animals like elephants, lions, and leopards. They are the most unpredictable animals and can kill quickly; they are used for sport, i.e., bullfights. Usually, they move and live in herds where there is a fight among the male members ensuring that only the best and most competitive individuals survive.

If we talk about the weight and mass, a buffalo grows about 2.5 to 3 meters in length and similarly height. They weigh roughly about 1000 to 1200lbs. Water buffalo weighs more and is a sized animal, whereas African buffalos are average. They also grow large and sharp horns. Male and female Buffalo can be differentiated on the basis of the size of horns.

Key Differences between Bison and Buffalo

  1. Bison have a large head which makes him look bigger, whereas the Buffalo has a smaller head making him a junior to Bison.
  2. Bison has a large hump at his back which makes the perfect place for the plow contrastingly Buffalo does not have any hump.
  3. Buffalo generally has long horns that are extended on the other hand Bison has small-sized horns that are not much extended.
  4. Bison is the one possessing beard on the contrary Buffalo does not a beard.
  5. Bison has a thick, double-layered skin that allows him to survive extreme atmospheric conditions conversely Buffalo has sleek and smooth skin as they do not face weather extremes.
  6. Bison is generally heavier than a Buffalo, roughly it weighs about 10,000 kilograms.
  7. Bison shed his rough skin in summers to get rid of heat contrastingly Buffalo has a skin adjustable to temperature.
  8. The two main species of Bison are European or American Bison whereas the species of Buffalo are African and Cape buffalo.

Conclusion

Bison and Buffalo though belong to the same chordate yet they have visible differences that make them distinct. Though this confusion was created when Europeans started recognizing the African Bison as ‘Buffalo’.

References

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/facts/american-bison

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/facts/african-buffalo