Pronghorn

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Pronghorn (Artiodactyla: Antilocapridae: Antilocapra americana) photographed 02/12/2014 along US-285 north of Roswell, NM.

I most often encounter pronghorn (Artiodactyla: Antilocapridae: Antilocapra americana) in the grasslands of the western Great Plains. As the fastest land animal in North America, the pronghorn is well-suited to open areas of the North American west. Reaching speeds of 50-60 MPH (80-97 KPH), these large herbivores are capable of outrunning any predator. That may explain why they are the only surviving species in their family.

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Pronghorn (Artiodactyla: Antilocapridae: Antilocapra americana) photographed 02/12/2014 along US-285 north of Roswell, NM.

While they appear deer-like, pronghorn are more closely related to the giraffe and okapi in the superfamily Giraffoidea. Both sexes sport the pronged horns that gives this species its common name, but only males use them for battle. These animals breed in autumn, with dominant males gathering harems for mating. They jealously guard females from other males, sometimes engaging in dramatic fights for mating rights.

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Pronghorn (Artiodactyla: Antilocapridae: Antilocapra americana) photographed 02/12/2014 along US-285 north of Roswell, NM.

When alarmed, pronghorn instinctively raise the prominent white hairs on their rumps. This serves as an instant cue to others that trouble is nearby, be it a wolf, cougar, or human with a camera.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Vertebrate Zoology and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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