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It’s a common misconception, but they are different animals. Both are in the same biological family, which in Latin is called Bovidae. The bison and the buffalo are bovine cousins; beefier, bulkier relatives of the common cow. The ox is kin, and so are sheep, goats, and antelope.
The American bison is the largest land mammal in North America. There were tens of millions in number, mainly across the Great Plains. Hunting and mass slaughter nearly wiped them out by the late 1800s, but they’ve made a strong recovery.
Physical Attributes. The bison is easily recognizable with its big head and shoulder hump. It also has shaggy brown fur, a mane and beard, and relatively short, black horns. It has a long tail with a tuft of hair.
An actual buffalo, rather than a bison, are not native to the Americas. There are a few kinds, including the water buffalo and the African buffalo. You may have heard of the Cape buffalo, a subspecies of the African buffalo.
Habitat. Buffalo prefer wetter living conditions than bison. Water buffalo live in wetland areas and love to wallow in the mud. The African buffalo’s favored habitat includes grasslands, but they also like areas with cover, such as lowland rainforests and coastal savannas.