9 Animals That Look Like American Bison (How They’re Similar)

Last updated on January 10th, 2024 at 11:33 am

Examples of animals that look like American Bison include European bison, Musk Ox, gaur, African buffalo, water buffalo, American Elk, yak, Wildebeest, and many others.

Before we delve into the details, it’s important to note that while we use the term “buffalo” colloquially for the American bison, the true buffalo species are found in Asia and Africa. The American bison belongs to a different category, existing in North America, and its European cousin resides in Europe.

How Big Are American Bison?

Male bison, known as bulls, boast an impressive weight of up to 2,000 pounds and stand at a towering height of 6 feet. In comparison, females, or cows, weigh up to 1,000 pounds and reach a height of 4-5 feet. Bison calves enter the world weighing between 30-70 pounds.

Despite their size, bison are not just large; they’re also speedy. These majestic creatures can sprint up to 35 miles per hour, showcasing remarkable agility. Their ability to spin rapidly, leap over high fences, and navigate the water with strength highlights the versatile athleticism of the mighty bison.

Unveil the world of American Bison and their look-alikes – nine creatures that might easily be mistaken for these distinctive animals!

9 Animals Like American Bison

1. European Bison

Animals Like American Bison

Image source pixabay

  • Scientific nameBison bonasus
  • Size: 7.9-10.8 ft
  • Weight: 930-2,000 lb
  • Found In: Europe

What’s Similar To American Bison: With a robust build and distinctive shoulder hump, the European bison highlights the parallel evolution of these species on different continents.

Also known as European wood bison, European buffalos, wisents, or zubrs, European bison are the closest relatives and most similar animals to the American Bison.

As the heaviest wild land animals in Europe, they can weigh up to 2,000 pounds! These herbivores boast dense, dark to golden brown coats, short necks, pronounced shoulder humps, and long manes on their foreheads and necks.

Once widespread throughout Europe, European bison faced near eradication due to hunting. They now inhabit deciduous and mixed forests with open grasslands and low-lying vegetation.

During the summer, an adult male can consume over 70 pounds of food a day.

2. Gaur

Animals Like American Bison
  • Scientific nameBos gaurus 
  • Size: 8.2-10.8 ft 
  • Weight: 970-3,300 lb
  • Found In: Asia

What’s Similar To American Bison: With its muscular build and distinctive horns, the gaur shares certain physical traits,

Gaur, also known as the Indian bison, holds the title of the largest cattle species globally.

With males weighing between 2,200 and 3,300 pounds and females between 970–2,200 pounds, only rhinos, elephants, and giraffes surpass their impressive size. Due to their imposing physique, horns, humps, and dark color, gaurs are occasionally mistaken for American Bison.

Gaurs thrive in areas with meadows and open terrain rich in water, herbs, shrubs, and grasses.

Unfortunately, their population has declined, with an estimated 21,000 remaining as of a 2016 report. Conservation efforts are crucial to preserving the existence of these magnificent animals.

3. Gayal

Animals Like American Bison
  • Scientific nameBos frontalis
  • Size: 8.2-11 ft 
  • Weight: 1,400-2,200 lb
  • Found In: Asia

What’s Similar To American Bison: With their dark coats, bushy manes around their necks, long horns, and long horse-like tails, gayals present a captivating image reminiscent of the American bison.

This enormous Asian cattle species, also known as Mithun or Drung ox, goes by the name gayal.

Found in China, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and India, these colossal creatures inhabit hill forests. With dark coats, thick horns, and short legs, gayals are highly social animals that live in herds.

Active during the day, these semi-domesticated beings maintain a herbivorous diet, consuming herbs, shrubs, and other plants.

4. Wild Yak

Animals Like American Bison
  • Scientific nameBos mutus
  • Size: 7.9-12 ft 
  • Weight: 1,100-3,100 lb
  • Found In: Asia

What’s Similar To American Bison: In the high-altitude regions of the Himalayas, the Wild yak stands as a robust relative of the American bison. Their sturdy build and shaggy coat illustrate nature’s adaptation to challenging environments.

Wild yaks, among the largest bovids globally, are native to the Himalayas and considered ancestors of domestic yaks.

They are formidable creatures and are between 7.9 and 12 feet long, weighing over 3,000 pounds, and standing up to 6.7 feet tall at the shoulder.

Inhabiting elevations from 13,000 to 20,000 feet in the alpine tundra, grasslands, and cold desert regions of the Tibetan plateau, wild yaks adapt to extreme environments by growing “skirts,” long undercoats that reach the ground.

Listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN, wild yaks have an estimated population of around 10,000 individuals.

5. Zebu

Animals Like American Bison

Image source pixabay

  • Scientific nameBos indicus
  • Size: 3.5-4 ft
  • Weight: 330-600+ lb
  • Found In: Widespread

What’s Similar To American Bison: share certain characteristics, including their utility for meat, hides, and horns.

Also known as indicine cattle or humped cattle, zebus serve various domestic purposes, providing meat, hides, milk, and horns.

While found on almost all continents, they are most common in southeastern Asia. These large herbivores graze on grass, seeds, leaves, and flowers and boast a characteristic fatty hump on their shoulders, akin to camels.

With over 75 breeds, many zebus are well-adapted to thrive in high temperatures.

Notably, in 1999, scientists from Texas A&M University achieved successful cloning of a zebu, showcasing advancements in biotechnology.

6. African Buffalo

Image source pixabay

  • Scientific name: Syncerus caffer 
  • Size: 5.6-11.2 ft
  • Weight: 600-1,900 lb
  • Found In: Africa

What’s Similar To American Bison: The African buffalo bears a resemblance to the American bison, particularly in its powerful build and massive horns. Despite the geographical separation, these animals exhibit convergent evolution, adapting to their respective environments.

Found in diverse landscapes such as savannas, swamps, grasslands, forests, and floodplains of major African mountains, African buffalos are one of the only two “true” buffalo species.

Due to their aggressive and unpredictable nature, they were never domesticated. Identified by their long, stocky bodies, horns, short legs, and darker colors, males develop a fused shield called a “boss” at the base of their horns, indicating dominance hierarchy.

Notably, these buffalos exhibit a unique decision-making process, where the herd “votes” on the next direction by standing up and moving toward the majority direction they faced while resting in the shade.

7. Water Buffalo

Image source pixabay

  • Scientific nameBubalus bubalis
  • Size: 8.7 ft
  • Weight: 660-1,210 lb
  • Found In: Asia, Europe, Australia, North America, South America, and Africa

What’s Similar To American Bison: In wetlands and grasslands, the water buffalo shares some features with the American bison. Both species contribute to their ecosystems through grazing habits, underlining the importance of herbivores in shaping landscapes.

Water buffalos, also known as domestic water buffalos, serve as the Asian counterparts to African buffalos. Originating from Asia, these large creatures have two recognized subspecies: river buffalos and swamp buffalos.

With a shoulder height of up to 6.2 feet, water buffalos are characterized by their gray-black coats, enormous horns, and their affinity for mud.

Their hoofed feet prevent them from sinking too deep, allowing them to spend most of their days sitting in the muddy waters of Asia’s tropical and subtropical forests.

Domesticated around 6,000 years ago, there are over 206 million water buffalos worldwide today, with approximately 97% found in Asia.

8. Black Wildebeest

Image source pixabay

  •  Scientific nameConnochaetes gnou 
  • Size: 5.5-7.2 ft 
  • Weight: 240-400 lb
  • Found In: Africa

What’s Similar To American Bison: Black Wildebeests, native to the African savannah, exhibit a form reminiscent of bison.

Wildebeests, often called the “poor man’s buffalos” due to their striking resemblance, share features like large heads, wide nostrils, and thick necks with buffalos.

Black wildebeests, also known as white-tailed gnus, boast dark coats, bushy neck manes, long horns, and horse-like tails.

These social animals form herds of 10 to 60, categorized into three groups: females with their young, bachelor herds with yearlings and old males, and territorial bulls. The diverse characteristics and group dynamics of black wildebeests contribute to their fascinating presence in the wild.

9. Muskox

Image source pixabay

  • Scientific nameOvibos moschatus 
  • Size: 4.4-8.2 ft
  • Weight: 400-900 lb
  • Found In: Arctic region

What’s Similar To American Bison: A creature with a thick coat and sturdy frame, similar to the American bison, displays survival adaptations in harsh environments despite their distinct habitats.

Muskox, native to the Arctic region, predominantly inhabits Greenland, northern parts of Canada, Alaska, Siberia, Norway, and Sweden.

Named for the strong odor emitted by males during mating season, these large animals live in small herds of 10-20, characterized by dominance hierarchies.

Despite their name and appearance, musk oxen are more closely related to sheep and goats than to oxen, adding to the intriguing nature of these Arctic inhabitants.

Final Words

This concludes our list of animals that look like American Bison.

From Black Wildebeest and Zebu to Wild Yaks, Muskox, and Gaurs, the animal kingdom presents a diverse array of counterparts.

We trust you enjoyed our exploration. If so, feel free to delve into more fascinating content: “Examples of animals like meerkats” and “Examples of animals that look like Squirrels.”


1. What animal looks like an American bison?

Several animals share a resemblance with the American bison, including Black Wildebeest, Zebu, Wild Yaks, Muskox, Gaurs, and more.

2. What are bison closely related to?

Despite their name and appearance, bison are more closely related to sheep and goats than to true oxen.

3. What Dino was mistaken for a bison?

The Bison alticornis, a prehistoric bison, was initially mistaken for a dinosaur due to its large size and horn structure.


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