A majestic, American legend

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The American bison is North America's largest native hooved land animal. Records indicate that this animal was first called "buffalo" during the mid 1600s. More than 100 years later, about the time of the founding of the United States of America, biologists of the day realized that the American buffalo was more closely related to the European bison than buffalos such as the Asian water buffalo. But the term "buffalo" has stuck and even today this magnificent animal is known as a buffalo by most Americans.

One of the most collectible of all American coins is one called the buffalo nickle. It has an American bison imprinted on the back of the coin.

By the mid 1800's the American bison had been severely hunted and subsequently driven out of its eastern range. The impressive American bison, once one of the most widespread and numerous of North American animals, was nearly pushed to extinction. Its range once extended into land now part of the states of Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania and western New York.

Sadly, the American bison is no longer a wild animal in the state of Missouri where it once romed freely. Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a repreint of the photo. Find more work by Aaron at the Painted Wren Gallery.

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