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The Futurama Creature That Confuses Fans

In a universe as dense with historical, scientific, and pop culture references as Futurama, some elements are going to be a little more puzzling than others. 

And over on Reddit, one Futurama fan's own personal bugaboo is the series' part-cow, part-bison, part-horse, part-ladybug herd animal of choice, the buggalo. "I always wondered, even as a kid, just what the Buggalo are," writes StevieBlunder44, on their own thread about the subject. "I mean are they native to Mars? Are they bio-engineered to help humans survive on Mars? I vaguely recall seeing them on earth in one episode too so I don't know."

The buggalo, for those who might not remember, were first seen in the series not on Mars, or Earth, but on the Moon. They premiered all the way back in Futurama's second episode, "The Series Has Landed," when Fry and Leela take refuge from the harsh lunar environment on a moon-based hydroponic farm, and end up milking a pair of the creatures, while working off their debt to the farmer. They are not solely dairy animals, either. In a later episode, Leela is shown eating the meat off a buggalo leg.

The history of the buggalo

What might have started as just a sight gag — giant bugs, spotted black and white like Holstein cattle — was expanded in the show's forty-second episode, "Where the Buggalo Roam." The gang visit Amy Wong's parents on Mars just as their herd of buggalo is stolen by Martians. Amy's boyfriend, Kif the Amphibiosan, sets out to rescue the herd and prove himself to her parents. He (temporarily) wins the respect of the ,ative Martians by flying Amy's pet buggalo, Betsy, into their midst, a feat previously only ,ative Martians were thought to be capable of because, as one commentater puts it, "they have the proper reverence."

The close bond between buggalo and native Martians would seem to point to a long-lasting historical and cultural relationship between the two. However, since that relationship seems to combine the affinity indigenous populations of the Great Plains had for buffalo and for horses, another user with the name ComradeSuka posited a different theory: "IRL the Great Plains Indians adopted and mastered non-native horses they originally acquired from Europeans, so the Buggalo don't necessarily need to be native to Mars." However, as the same user elaborates, horses actually originally evolved in North America before going extinct there until their reintroduction by Europeans. "So the answer is Buggalo originally evolved on Mars, were taken by aliens to another world, went extinct on Mars, and then reintroduce sometime before 2636. All covered if you watch the History Channel."

Why not? On Futurama, crazier things have happened.