Interspecies Conflict/King of Americas

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Question
Hi, BK, how are you doing? Thanks a lot for your very intersting answer about the fight between Bison latifrons and Pelorovis antiquus.

This time, I have a different question for you:

I think that, probably, the most powerfull animals of the Americas are the Bison, the Kodiak Bear and the Polar Bear.

So, I would like to know your opinion about these fights (allways between medium sized males, determined to fight, with plenty of space to move):

a) Wood Bison vs Kodiak Bear.

b) Wood Bison vs Polar Bear.

c) Plains Bison vs Kodiak Bear.

d) Plains Bison vs Polar Bear.

Thank you very much!

Answer
Hello Antonio.  Doing OK here; hope everything is good with you.

I agree that the bison & the 2 bears are right at the top of the list of powerful animals in the Americas.  The moose is up there, too.

wood bison vs kodiak bear: The wood bison is the largest land animal in the Americas, and the Kodiak bear is tie with the polar bear as the largest land predator in the world.  The bison weighs more than the Kodiak bear here (almost 50% more), and it will be more than a match for the ursid.  Bison have very powerful shoulder & neck areas, and they can generate a great deal of force by ramming with their heads or goring with their horns.  The Kodiak bear will have a tough time controlling the head & neck of the bison, and it will not be able to avoid the charges of the larger herbivore.  Bears are reasonably agile and can make quick turns, but they aren't as adept as big cats at getting out of the way of a charging adversary.  In other words, they won't be able to move their bodies laterally quick enough to keep from being a target.  Kodiak bears have well-developed shoulder muscles, and can deliver strong strikes with their paws, but only a perfectly-placed one will slow the bison down.  If the bison is determined to plow into the bear, the bear will be on the defensive and have few options.  Bears aren't used to tackling large, mobile herbivores on a regular basis, and will be in trouble against one this big.  The bear would only win if everything fell perfectly into place for it, and that just won't happen most of the time.  Wood bison wins.

wood bison vs polar bear: The polar bear is a very powerful bear that occasionally tackles large walruses, but a walrus isn't very mobile on land.  Walruses weigh more than bison do, but there's a big difference in the mobility of a 4-legged herbivore and a pinniped with flippers.  The polar bear will be more apt to grab the front end of the bison and try to overpower it than the Kodiak will (the Kodiak will be more apt to strike with its paws), but it will not be large enough to consistently keep the bison from creating the distance it needs to effectively use its horns & head.  The bear can't jump onto the bison's back like a big cat can, and to defeat the bison it will need to overpower it.  While the bear may be stronger pound-for-pound than the bison, the bison's method of applying it's strength into offense is more effective than the bear's method of applying it (in this particular matchup).  The bear will find it hard to finish the bison without bringing it to the ground, and the odds are against it doing so.  Wood bison wins.

plains bison vs kodiak bear: The plains bison only weighs about 85% of the wood bison's weight, but it's still going to be bigger than the bear.  The Kodiak bear will have a better chance here than against the wood bison, but it will still be facing an uphill battle for the same reasons.  If the Kodiak can land some well-placed paw strikes and stun (or gash) the bison it might have hope, but precision will be hard to attain with a heavier, charging animal.  Bears are tough and hard to injure easily, but the bison has the tools to constantly apply pressure.  The battle probably won't last long enough for the bear's legendary endurance to become an advantage. Plains bison wins.

plains bison vs polar bear: The polar bear's chances won't be any better than the Kodiak's for the same reasons stated in the wood bison matchup.  If the weights of the bison & bears were equal, it would be a great contest, but the bison might still hold a slight edge.  The bison's robust build makes it difficult to topple, and its shaggy coat provides some protection against the bear's attacks.  Bears are amazing fighters, but the inability to "get out of the way" in this particular matchup is the biggest reason it can't be favored.  Plains bison wins.


Best regards.  

Interspecies Conflict

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BK

Expertise

Questions regarding animal conflicts within realistic or unrealistic settings are welcome; my strength lies in medium-to-large species. Small animals (including birds of prey), prehistoric animals, sea creatures, and domestic dog breeds are usually within my scope, but to a lesser degree. I can't confidently answer hypothetical questions about human vs animal, arachnids, insects, or amphibians, but I am willing to field them nonetheless.

Experience

From a young age, I have been interested in animals. Starting with the original Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and World Book Encyclopedias, I have seen many animal shows and documentaries and have read multiple books on the subject. I have a solid understanding of the physiology of many animals and interspecies conflict in general.

Education/Credentials
Associate degree in unrelated field; biology classes in college.

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