Bison: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Bison

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

American Bison (Bison bison)
European bison/wisent (Bison bonasus)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Bovinae
Genus: Bison
Hamilton Smith, 1827

B. antiquus
B. bison
B. bonasus
B. latifrons
B. occidentalis
B. priscus



Members of the genus Bison are large even-toed ungulates within the subfamily Bovinae. Two extant species and four extinct species are recognized. The surviving species are the American bison, Bison bison (with two subspecies, the plains bison, Bison bison bison, and the wood bison, Bison bison athabascae), found in North America, and the European bison, or wisent (Bison bonasus), found in Europe and the Caucasus. While these species are usually grouped into their own genus, they are sometimes included in the closely related genus Bos,[1] together with cattle, gaur, kouprey and yaks, with which bison can interbreed.



The American bison and the European wisent are the largest terrestrial mammals in North America and Europe. Bison are nomadic grazers and travel in herds, except for the non-dominant bulls, which travel alone or in small groups during most of the year. American bison are known for living in the Great Plains. Both species were hunted close to extinction during the 19th and 20th centuries but have since rebounded. The American Plains bison is no longer listed as endangered, but the Wood Bison is on the endangered species list in Canada.[2]

Skulls of European bison (left) and American bison (right)

Although superficially similar, there are a number of physical and behavioural differences between the American and European bison. The American species has 15 ribs, while the European bison has 14. The American bison has four lumbar vertebrae, while the European has five.[3] Adult American bison are not as rangy in build, and have shorter legs.[4] American bison tend to graze more, and browse less than their European cousins. Their anatomies reflect this behavioural difference; the American bison's head hangs closer to the earth than the European's. The body of the American bison is typically hairier, though its tail has less hair than that of the European bison. The horns of the European bison point through the plane of their faces, making them more adept at fighting through the interlocking of horns in the same manner as domestic cattle, unlike the American bison which favours butting.[5] American bison are more easily tamed than their European cousins, and breed with domestic cattle more readily.[6]


A group of images by Eadweard Muybridge, set to motion to illustrate the animal's movement.

Wallowing is a common behavior of bison. A bison wallow is a shallow depression in the soil, either wet or dry. Bison roll in these depressions, covering themselves with mud or dust. Possible explanations suggested for wallowing behavior include grooming behavior associated with moulting, male-male interaction (typically rutting behavior), social behavior for group cohesion, play behavior, relief from skin irritation due to biting insects, reduction of ectoparasite load (ticks and lice), and thermoregulation.[7] In the process of wallowing bison may become infected by the fatal disease anthrax, which may occur naturally in the soil.[8]

The bison's temperament is often unpredictable. They usually appear peaceful, unconcerned, even lazy, yet they may attack anything, often without warning or apparent reason. They can move at speeds of up to thirty-five miles per hour and cover long distances at a lumbering gallop.[9]

Their most obvious weapon is the horns that both male and female have. But their head, with its massive skull, can be used as a battering ram, effectively using the momentum produced by two thousand pounds moving at thirty miles per hour. The hind legs can also be used to kill or maim with devastating effect. At the time bison ran wild, they were rated second only to the Alaska brown bear as a potential killer, more dangerous than the grizzly bear. In the words of early naturalists, they were a dangerous, savage animal that feared no other animal and in prime condition could best any foe.[9]

The rutting, or mating, season lasts from June through September with peak activity in July and August. At this time, the older bulls rejoin the herd and fights often take place between bulls. The herd exhibits much restlessness during breeding season the animals are belligerent, unpredictable and most dangerous.[9]


Bison have a fairly simple diet. The bison's main food is grass. Bison also eat the low lying shrubbery that is available. In the winter, bison forage in the snow looking for grass. If there is little grass available, bison have to resort to eating the twigs of shrubs.[citation needed]


Due to their large size few predators attack bison. Wolf packs, but not single wolves, could take down a bison. Brown bears will also prey on calves, and have been observed driving off wolves to take over their kills.[citation needed]

See also

External links

  • Gallery of bison tracks & signs, Wikimedia Commons [1]



  1. ^ Groves, C. P., 1981. Systematic relationships in the Bovini (Artiodactyla, Bovidae). Zeitschrift für Zoologische Systematik und Evolutionsforschung, 4:264-278., quoted in Don E. Wilson & DeeAnn M. Reeder (editors). 2005. Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed), Johns Hopkins University Press: "Bison". (online edition)
  2. ^ "U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Species Report". Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  3. ^ The Penny Cyclopædia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge by Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (Great Britain), published by C. Knight, 1835
  4. ^ Trophy Bowhunting: Plan the Hunt of a Lifetime and Bag One for the Record Books, by Rick Sapp, Edition: illustrated, published by Stackpole Books, 2006, ISBN 0811733157, 9780811733151
  5. ^ American Bison: A Natural History, By Dale F. Lott, Harry W. Greene, ebrary, Inc, Contributor Harry W. Greene, Edition: illustrated, Published by University of California Press, 2003 ISBN 0520240626, 9780520240629
  6. ^ Zoologist: A Monthly Journal of Natural History, By Edward Newman, James Edmund Harting, Published by J. Van Voorst, 1859
  7. ^ "Wallowing Behavior of American Bison (Bos Bison)". JSTOR. April 10, 2008. 
  8. ^ "Anthrax kills bison in southern N.W.T.". CBC.CA. July 8, 2006. 
  9. ^ a b c "American Bison". 


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also bison




Proper noun

Wikipedia has an article on:



  1. a taxonomic genus, within subfamily Bovinae - the bisons
Wikispecies has information on:


See also

  • See Wikispecies or Wikipedia for species



Bison m (genitive singular: Bisons, nominative plural: Bisons)

  1. bison (Bison bison)

Related terms


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Bison bison


Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Mammalia
Subclassis: Theria
Infraclassis: Placentalia
Superordo: Cetartiodactyla
Ordo: Artiodactyla
Subordo: Ruminantia
Familia: Bovidae
Subfamilia: Bovinae
Genus: Bison
Species: †B. antiquus - B. bison - B. bonasus - †B. latifrons - †B. occidentalis - †B. priscus


Bison Hamilton Smith, 1827


  • Bison on Mammal Species of the World.
    Don E. Wilson & DeeAnn M. Reeder (editors). 2005. Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed).
  • Mammal Species of the World, A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, 3rd edition, 2005 ISBN 0801882214

Vernacular names

Esperanto: Bizono
Galego: Bisonte
日本語: バイソン属
Türkçe: Bizon
中文: 美洲野牛屬

Simple English

"Buffalo" redirects here. For the city in New York, see Buffalo, New York.

File:American bison
Bison bison or buffalo
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Bovinae
Genus: Bison
Hamilton Smith, 1827

Bisons are a group of even-toed ungulate mammals. They form the genus Bison of the subfamily Bovinae and the family Bovidae. They are the biggest mammals in North America.[1]




Bison live in the northern part of the world. The American Bison lives in North America, and the Wisent lives in Europe. They can also live in rugged areas.


They live to be about 20 years old and are born without their "hump" or horns, which both males and females have. After shedding their light colored hair, and with their horns, they are grown at 2 to 3 years of age, but the males keep growing slowly until about age seven. Adult bulls are very dominant in mating season. Adult bison usually have one or two baby bison.

American Bison

American Bison are large, plant-eating mammals that are similar to cows. Even though they are often called buffalo, they are not really related to them. They used to wander around the prairies of North America in huge herds. There used to be as many as 30 million bison in the United States, but because of hunting, by 1890, only 1,000 bison were left.[2] Through conservation efforts, there are now more American bison than there used to be, but still far fewer than there were before the 1800s.


  1. Gifford, Clive; Lisa Clayden (2002). Family Flip Quiz Geography. Bardfield Centre, Great Bardfield, Essex, CM7 4SL: Miles Kelly Publishing. ISBN 1-84236-146-5. 
  2. Conger, Cristen. "What brought bison back from the brink of extinction?". 
Look up Bison in Wikispecies, a directory of species
Error creating thumbnail: sh: convert: command not found
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address