Natural History


posted: 05/10/13
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PRONGHORN, Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge, Montana | Photo Caption: Excerpted from North America: A World In One Continent by Huw Cordey | ARKive Animal Profile: Pronghorn

Pronghorn are a unique species to North America. They are not goats or antelopes, although they are related to both, with their deerlike bodies, long snouts, and short tails. Like bison, seemingly endless numbers once covered the plains, and like bison, they became nearly extinct. Populations declined from an estimated thirty million in the early 1800s, to less than 15,000 by 1915. Today, thanks to conservation efforts, there are once again around a million pronghorn roaming the plains.

These beautiful long-legged creatures are born to run, and are the fastest land animals on the continent. They can keep up speeds of forty-five miles an hour (72 km) for prolonged periods, and can reach even faster speeds for short bursts. Their speed evolved to help them escape a single predator — the cheetah, which is the fastest land animal on earth. Cheetahs are now extinct in North America, but the pronghorn still use their speed to escape the wolves and coyotes since a pronghorn is an easier target than a bison.

EXPLORE THE GREAT PLAINS: American Bison | Prairie Dog | Red Fox | Ferruginous Hawk | Pronghorn | Jumping Spider | Bobcat | Prairie Chicken | Burrowing Owl | Pocket Gopher | Snow Goose | All North American Animals

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