Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/709

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PLANT-EATERS OF NORTH AMERICA.

form of the Cape buffalo, a very ferocious animal, with horns so wide that they nearly cover the forehead; in India, the arni, whose enormous horns are ten feet apart from tip to tip; in the forests of Lithuania and of the Caucasus, the aurochs, an ox related more or less closely to our wild species; in Tartary, the grunting cow or yak, which is smaller than any of the preceding, and which has a long mane upon the back, whose tail much resembles that of a horse, and whose grunting is similar to that of a hog. And in North America we find the American buffalo (Bos Americanus, Fig. 9).

PSM V10 D709 The bison or buffalo.jpg
Fig. 9.—The Bison or Buffalo (Bos Americanus).

the largest quadruped on this continent. This animal once inhabited nearly all of North America, except the cold regions of the north; but it is now confined mainly to the great Western plains, where, notwithstanding the immense havoc made among their numbers, both by Indians and white men, they still exist in numbers that almost defy computation, in some places covering the plains in every direction as far as the eye can reach. The buffalo is as large as a good-sized domestic ox, and has a large head which is carried close to the ground, a broad forehead, a broad, full chest, a large hump between the shoulders, narrow loins, and rather slender legs. The horns are set far apart, are large at the base, and taper suddenly to a sharp point. The buffalo is covered with a thick coat of hair, that upon the head, neck, and shoulders, being very long and shaggy. The horns and hoofs are black. Perhaps there is no grander sight to be witnessed among the larger animals than to see one of the immense herds of these animals, when under good headway, sweep by—if only the observer has a safe standing-place.

When the buffalo is moving rapidly, it progresses by an awkward canter or gallop, and it requires a good horse and an expert rider to keep up with it. The hunting of the buffalo is one of the most exciting and at times one of the most dangerous sports, if such it may