2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Mammals

European Bison, or Wisent
European Bison, or Wisent
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

Bison is a taxonomic genus containing six species of large even-toed ungulates within the subfamily Bovinae. Only two of these species still exist: the American Bison, which is commonly referred to as "buffalo" in American Western culture, and the European Bison, or wisent. The gaur, a large, thick-coated ox found in Asia, is also known as the Indian Bison. Bison are distinct from buffalo, with the only two species holding that name being the Asian Water Buffalo and African Buffalo.

The American and European Bison are the largest terrestrial mammals in North America and Europe. Like their cattle relatives, 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 by "White Hunters" during the 19th and 20th centuries but have since rebounded, although the European Bison is still endangered.

Unlike the Asian Water Buffalo, the Bison has never really been domesticated, although it does appear on farms occasionally. It is raised now mostly on large ranches in the United States and Canada for meat. Although there are wild herds in Yellowstone and northern central Canada, Wood Bison.

They live to be about 20 years old and are born without their trademark "hump" or horns, which both sexes have. After shedding their light faun-colored hair, and with the development of their horns, they become mature at 2 to 3 years of age, although the males continue to grow slowly to about age seven. Adult bulls express a high degree of dominance during mating season.

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