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The Difference Between the European Bison and American Bison

European bison and American bison both belong to the genus Bison and have many characteristics in common, even though they are a different species.

You’ll know their differences by the end of this article by 5-Minute Crafts.

European bison are the largest and heaviest land mammals in Europe. Not very long ago, there used to be 3 subspecies of these animals, but only the European bison (Bison bonasus bonasus) survived to this day. The rest were hunted to extinction at the beginning of the 20th century. For a long time, the only remaining species of bison was also endangered, but today, thanks to captive breeding programs, the animals have been returned to the wild.

American bison are the heaviest and longest animals in North America and the second tallest after moose. In nature, there are 2 subspecies of these creatures: the plains bison and the wood bison. The first one has a more rounded hump and is relatively small in size, the second one is larger and taller, with a square hump.

  • Size
    The American bison is slightly shorter than the European one. The European bison is about 78 inches tall, while the American bison can reach between 60-73 inches in height. The length of these animals is approximately the same: about 132 inches. The main reason why European bison are taller than American bison is their legs. In European bison, they are slightly longer.
  • Coat
    The American bison has a more hairy body: the hairs on its neck, head, and forequarters are longer than those of the European bison. However, the European bison has a hairier tail.
  • Head shape
    If you look at the American bison’s head in a neutral position, you will see that its forehead is more protruding compared to its nose. In the European bison, it’s vice versa: its nose is further forward than its forehead.

  • Horns
    The American bison’s horns are shorter than those of the European bison, they are more curved, sharp, and directed upward. They help these animals fight by butting each other. The horns of the European bison are longer and point more forward. European bison also use their horns to fight each other, but generally by locking their horns.
  • Skeletal structure
    Although it can’t be seen, the American bison and the European bison have a different number of ribs and lumbar vertebrae. The American bison has 15 pairs of ribs, and the European bison has 14. At the same time, the European bison has more lumbar vertebrae than the American bison: 5 and 4, respectively.
  • Habitat and human interaction
    American bison inhabit the United States and Canada, while European bison live in Northern Europe. The former are easier to tame than the latter.

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