Antelope are herbivorous mammals of the family Bovidae, often noted for their horns. These animals are spread relatively evenly throughout the various subfamilies of the Bovidae and many are more closely related to cows or goats than to each other.
There are many species of antelope, they typically have a light and elegant frame, slender, graceful limbs, small cloven hoofs, and a short tail. Antelope have powerful hindquarters and, when startled, they run with a peculiar bounding stride that makes them look as though they are bouncing over the terrain like giant rabbits.
Antilocapridae is a family of artiodactyls endemic to North America. Only one species, the pronghorn (Antilocapra americana), is living today; all other members of the family are extinct. The living pronghorn is a small ruminant mammal resembling an antelope. It bears small, forked horns.
The Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) is the only surviving member of the family Antilocapridae, and the fastest mammal in North America running at speeds of 58 mph and the second-fastest land animal, second only to the Cheetah.
The Pronghorn can sustain high speeds longer than cheetahs. The top recorded pronghorn speed was 61 mph. The Pronghorn has an oversized heart and lungs and their hair is hollow. Although built for speed, the pronghorn is a very poor jumper.
The Pronghorn also sports a very large set of eyes that are said to be the equivalent of 8X binoculars, and have a 320 degree field of vision.
The Pronghorn is also known as the Pronghorn antelope, but is not a true antelope. It is a unique animal with no close relatives. Both the males' and the females' horns are made up of a hairlike substance that grows around a bony core; the outer sheath is shed annually.
Pronghorns were brought to scientific notice by the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which found them in what is now South Dakota, USA. The Pronghorn's range extends from southern Saskatchewan and Alberta in Canada to Sonora and Baja California in Mexico. They live on both sides of the Rocky Mountains. The eastern limit of their range is generally the Missouri River in the United States.
The subspecies known as the Sonoran Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana sonoriensis) occurs in Arizona and Mexico.
Pronghorns have a longer gestation period than is typical for North American ungulates. Bands of pronghorns live in open grasslands, gathering into larger herds in the winter. They breed in mid-September, and the doe carries her fawn until late May. This is around six weeks longer than the Pronghorn's slightly larger distant relative, the whitetail deer.
Pronghorn newborns weigh 5 to 9 lb. Adult male Pronghorns weigh 100 to 145 lb while females weigh 75 to 100 lb. The main color of adults is brown or tan, with a white rump and belly and two white stripes on the throat. A short dark mane grows along the neck, and males also sport a black mask and black patches on the sides of the neck.
Male Pronghorns have horns about 5 to 17 in. long with a prong. Females also grow horns, though these are relatively small, ranging from 1 to 6 in, and sometimes barely visible; they are straight rather than pronged.
Pronghorns have a distinct, musky odor. Males mark territory with a scent gland located on the sides of the head. Pronghorns are commonly called "Prairie Goats", "Speed Goats", or simply "goats" for this reason (as well as their resemblance to domesticated goats.)
Pronghorns live primarily in grasslands but also in brushland and deserts. They eat cacti, grasses, and forbs, and browse plants.
Pronghorn ranges are often affected by sheep ranchers' fences. However, they can be seen going under fences. For this reason the Arizona Antelope Foundation and others are in the process of removing the bottom barbed wire from the fences, and/or installing a barbless bottom wire.
By 1908, hunting pressure had reduced the Pronghorn population to about 20,000. Protection of habitat and hunting restrictions have allowed them to recover to 500,000 Pronghorns. Wolves, coyotes and bobcats are the major predators. Golden eagles have been reported to prey on fawns.
Pronghorns are now numerous enough that they exceed the human population in all of Wyoming and parts of northern Colorado. The Pronghorn is widely hunted in western states for purposes of population control and food, as its meat is rich and lean.