Adaptations of buffalo include a specially segmented stomach to help digest tough plant material, an elongated tongue, a heightened sense of hearing and smell, a hump and large low-set head and a thick coat. Buffalo also have specific behavioral adaptations geared to conserving energy.
Buffalo are ruminants, which means they use the bacteria in their stomachs to ferment the food they eat in order to acquire the most nutrients possible. The elongated tongue acts as an extra appendage and helps buffalo gather grass more efficiently. The buffalo's heightened sense of hearing and smell are adapted to compensate for the animal's limited eyesight and help protect buffalo from predators. The hump and the low-set head are functional adaptations that make it easier for buffalo to graze on the short grasses that make up its diet.
The thick coat is unique to species of buffalo, like the American bison, that inhabit cold environments. The coat consists of a thick tough outer layer and a softer inner layer that work in tandem to insulate the buffalo and keep it warm. The coat is so effective that snow that has fallen on the back of a buffalo does not melt due to body heat escaping from the animal. The cape buffalo of the African grasslands has developed behavioral adaptations that keep the animal from expending energy during the hot summer months. The cape buffalo rests during the day and forages for food at night.