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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pronghorn Antelope

The Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana), is a species of artiodactyl (any of an order of ungulates (as the camel or pig) with an even number of functional toes on each foot) mammal endemic to interior western and central North America.

Though not an antelope, it is often known colloquially in North America as the Prong Buck, Pronghorn Antelope, Speedgoat, or simply Antelope, as it closely resembles the true antelopes of the Old World and fills a similar ecological niche due to convergent evolution. It is the only surviving member of the family Antilocapridae.

Adult males are 4 1/4–5 ft long from nose to tail and stand 2 5/8–3 3/8 ft high at the shoulder, and weigh 36–70 kg. The females are the same heights as males but weigh 41–50 kg. The feet have just two hooves, with no dewclaws.

Each "horn" of the Pronghorn is composed of a slender, laterally flattened blade of bone that grows from the frontal bones of the skull, forming a permanent core.

Males have a prominent pair of horns on the top of the head, which are made up of an outer sheath of hairlike substance that grows around a bony core; the outer sheath is shed annually. Males have a horn sheath about 12.5–43 cm (mean 25 cm) long with a prong. Females have smaller horns, ranging from 2.5–15 cm (average 12 cm), and sometimes barely visible; they are straight and very rarely pronged.

Males are further differentiated from females in that males will have a small patch of black hair at the corner of the jawbone. Pronghorns have a distinct, musky odor. Males mark territory with a scent gland located on the sides of the head. They also have very large eyes, with a 320 degree field of vision. Unlike deer, Pronghorns possess a gallbladder.

Pronghorns can run exceptionally fast, being built for maximum predator evasion through running, and is generally accepted to be the fastest land mammal in the New World. The top speed is very hard to measure accurately and varies between individuals; it is variously cited as up to 70 km/h. It is often cited as the second-fastest land animal, second only to the cheetah. It can, however, sustain high speeds longer than cheetahs.

Bands of Pronghorns live in open grasslands, forming small single-sex groups in spring and summer, and gathering into large mixed herds, sometimes up to 1,000 strong, in the fall and winter.

Pronghorns can see up to four miles away and are always on the look out for predators.

If you plan on trying to catch one of these in a survival situation, it is best to have a good strong bow or a survival rifle. A .22 LR round can take down one of these if you are close enough.

Stay Prepared! Stay Alive!


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