Bisons and buffalos both belong to the Bovidae family, with the same class, phylum, kingdom and order, alongside several similarities in appearance as well. This is the reason the early Americans used to call a bison “bufello”.
However, they are two different species; the American bison is native to North and South America and Europe, while buffalos (both water and cape) reside in Asia and Africa. The two can be distinguished by physical traits. While a Bison is a four footed animal with a huge structure and a large hump, a Buffalo is also a four footed animal with a huge frame, but does not have a hump.
A Bison’s meat is consumed; its skin is used for making winter clothing and shelter, while its horns and bones are used to make different weapons. Buffalos give milk alongside meat, and their horns are used as scraping tools. Their bones are used to make bowls and the skin is used for clothing, shoes and shelter.
Bisons have sharp and small horns, while those of a buffalo are blunt and long. The former has a thick fur and a beard, while the latter has light fur and no beard. Native to South and North America, Bisons live in plains, rugged conditions and extremely cold regions. Water buffalos (native to Asia) on the other hand, cannot survive rugged conditions, but cape buffalos (native to Africa) can.
The former eat grass and hay and are not domesticated, while the latter eat only grass and are usually domesticated (water buffalos). Bisons weigh somewhere between 700 to 2,200 pounds and have a lifespan of 13 to 21 years. On the other hand, the average weight of a wild water buffalo is 2640 pounds and cape buffalos (those residing in African regions) can weigh about 2000 pounds. Asian buffalos have a lifespan of 25-30 years, while the African ones have a lifespan of 15 to 25 years.