The bison has been named America’s official national mammal; when asked for comment, the bison ate grass and stank.
The bison joins the bald eagle in representing the United States; the bald eagle is a trashbird with a wimpy cry, but it looks bitchin’. Not bison: they are both beautiful (in a shaggy and hideous way) and awesome: they do that large-mammal thing of head-butting each other to gain mating rights, which is far more efficient than OKCupid.
Buffalo and bison are two names for the same animal, and may more or less be used interchangeably, much like alligator and crocodile. There were tens of millions of them on the plains, mile-wide herds grazing their way across the grasslands; tragically, bison were allergic to bullets. Much as the Native people lacked the immune systems to deal with the white man’s germs, bison were completely susceptible to being shot multiple times with a rifle; no natural defenses at all.
The American Indians who lived near buffalo killed them as well, of course, but generally only as many as was necessary. Whereas white people quickscoped them from moving trains because they were bored. Had Facebook been invented, there would still be buffalo as far as the eye could see.
Thanks to regulations, and a publicity campaign to get people to eat buffalo (they’re delicious), and Ted Turner, the bison are coming back and that is a good thing: we just need to keep them around until the Innertubes turn on us and we all eat each other; within a few years, the plains will be furry and brown once again, and the buffalo will stroll through our ruins.
So, it’s a good thing, if ceremonial; some so-called news outlets are reporting that there are no other official national things besides the bald eagle. This is not true: in addition to the national bird and the national mammal, there are a whole mess of official national other things.
There is the official national Chinese food order, which is “a bunch of appetizers and we’ll split a dish.” The official national mountain is Mount Tamalpais, which sounds exciting, but last time Bobby wanted to redo a bathroom, he had to clear it with the Department of the Interior. The official national Mookie is Wilson. (Mr. Blaylock was crushed.)
Did you know that we have an official national deadly fungus? It is the Deadly Dapperling. And an official national pigeon? The Basra Dewlap. And an official national rose? It is the Glaucous Dog Rose. (All of these are real.)
America has no official national book, though not for lack of certain people trying.