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American bison, or plains buffalo (Bison bison).—Alan G. Nelson/Root Resources
Either species (genus Bison) of oxlike bovid with a convex forehead and a pronounced shoulder hump. Its dark brown, coarse hair is especially long on the head, which is held low, and on the neck and shoulders. Both sexes bear heavy, curved horns. A mature bull stands about 6.5 ft (2 m) at the shoulder and weighs more than 1,980 lb (900 kg). Bison live in herds. The American bison (B. bison), commonly called buffalo, was abundant over most of North America when Europeans arrived. Uncontrolled hunting drove it nearly to extinction by 1900, but it has since recovered. The European bison (B. bonasus) is similar and survives only in a few managed herds.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on bison, visit Britannica.com.