You say buffalo, we say bison. What’s the story? Is it like, you say tomato, I say tomahto? Or is the actually a difference between American buffalo and bison?
In the United States both the term bison and buffalo are used in reference to the same animal. The truth is that genetically they are worlds apart. Bison is the correct term for the American bison. When European settlers came to America they confused American bison (Bison bison) with African Buffalo (Synerus caffer), European bison (Bison bonasus) and/or Asian Water Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis).
A bison bull is the largest animal indigenous to North America. A bull can weight more than a ton and stand taller than 6 feet at the hump. Bison are strong, agile and aggressive.
Despite the confusion the term buffalo stuck in America. According to The American Buffalo in Transition by J. Albert Rorabacher, in the seventeenth century, French explorers in North America referred to the new species they encountered as “les boeufs”, meaning oxen or beeves. The English, arriving later, changed the pronunciation to “la buff”. The name grew distorted as “buffle”, “buffler”, “buffillo”, and, eventually, “buffalo.”