We kick off 2021 with an amazing animal that at times defies logic. The Pronghorn Antelope is native to North America but is an incredibly unique hooved animal. Most of its relatives died out at the end of the last Ice Age, but somehow survived. It also is not only one of the fastest land mammals and has many other jaw-dropping adaptations. This is another cant miss episode about a species many often forget about.
The Pronghorn Antelope has an incredible history compared to other species. They are the only remaining species left of the Family Antilocaprida. In fact, the Pronghorn Antelope is not closely related to the old world antelopes at all. In fact, they are more closely related to the Giraffe and Oakapi.
What is fascinating is, after the last Ice Age, many species went extinct. To include other Pronghorn antelope species in the Americas. One such species is the small Dwarf Pronghorn. Somehow the modern Pronghorn hung on and thrived. While there was once 35 million Pronghorn in North America, by the 20th century there were less than 13,000. However, with concentrated conservation programs, the Pronghorn has rebounded and now there are an estimated 700,000.
The species name is Antilocapra americana. There are 5 subspecies of Pronghorn:
- American Pronghorn, A. a. americana
- Mexican Pronghorn, A. a. mexicana, Endangered
- Oregon Pronghorn, A. a. oregona
- Baja California Pronghorn, A. a. peninsularis, Critically Endangered
- Sonoran Pronghorn, A. a. sonoriensis, Endangered
The Pronghorn is built for speed. Through its evolution the Pronghorn evolved to be the second fastest land animal. The cheetah, and the extinct American Cheetah, are the fastest. So the Pronghorn survived by being almost as fast at 60 MPH (98 KPH) and could outlast a cheetah with its endurance.
The Pronghorn has some other fascinating adaptations. If a predator grabs it, it will most likely gets tufts of hair. Their hair is also hollow, helping to protect them against the cold. Their eyeballs are also as large as an elephants. They have wide tracheas to help with oxygen exchange, among other physical adaptations.
One of the most crazy differences with the Pronghorn is it horns. They grow similar to a giraffes and are horns, but they are shed annually like antlers. They are the only animal in the world that sheds its horns each years.
You can read more about this and other facts HERE
Overall the Pronghorn is classified as least concern. However, the subspecies are not. The Mexican and Sonoran Pronghorn as classified as endangered with about 500 animals each. The Baja California Pronghorn is critically endangered with around 100 animals left.