The American Bison (Bison bison) is a North American species of bison, also commonly known as the American Buffalo. "Buffalo" is somewhat of a misnomer for this animal, as it is only distantly related to either of the two "true buffaloes", the Asian Buffalo (or "Water Buffalo") and the Afican Buffalo. However, "bison" is a Greek word meaning ox-like animal, while "buffalo" originated with the French fur trappers who called these massive beasts boeufs, meaning ox or bullock. So both names, "bison" and "buffalo," have a similar meaning. In reference to this animal, the term "buffalo," which dates to 1635, has a much longer history than the term "bison," which was first recorded in 1774. The American Bison is more closely related to the Wisent or European Bison.
These bison once inhabited the grasslands of North America in massive herds; their range roughly formed a triangle between the Great Bear Lake in Canada's far northwest, south to the Mexican states of Durango and Nuevo leon, and east along the leeward[clarification needed] boundary of the Appalachian Mountains. The two subspecies include the Plains Bison (Bison bison bison), smaller in size and with a more rounded hump, and the Wood Bison (Bison bison athabascae), which is the larger of the two and with a taller, square hump. Wood Bison is one of the largest species of cattle in the world, surpassed only by the Asian gaur and Wild Asian Water Buffalo. It is the largest extant land animal in North America.