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American Pronghorn

Antilocapra americana
pronghorn herd

Faster than…everything!

Able to run up to 60 miles-per-hour, pronghorn are the fastest land animal in North America. Their incredible speed evolved thousands of years ago at a time when two species of cheetahs hunted in North America. Fast predators like the cheetahs, short-faced bears and dire wolves became extinct many thousands of years ago—but the pronghorn survived.

Perhaps as amazing as their speed is the distance a pronghorn can run. Pronghorn have been seen running 35 miles per hour more than two miles without stopping. About the size of a large house cat at birth, pronghorn grow to over 100 pounds. Most of this weight is amassed in their thick bodies with extremely large heart and lungs necessary for distance running. Instead of being heavy and muscular, a pronghorn’s slender light legs can move much more quickly. Specially padded hooves work like a car’s shock absorbers for rough and rocky terrain.

Bionic binocular vision

Pronghorn rely not only on speed but also keen vision for protection. Their eyes, as big as an elephant’s, see the world as you would if using binoculars with 8 power magnification. With eyes set far apart, a pronghorn’s field of view is much wider than you see even with the naked eye.

Pronghorn conservation 

Even with super speed and vision, pronghorn could not escape over hunting and the threat of extinction following settlement and development of the western United States. But with refuges and other protections the pronghorn were saved. Today the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service continues to ensure all American’s can visit their refuge’s to see pronghorn run wild and free.

Facts About American Pronghorn

Origin: western North America (Canada, United States, Mexico), 20 million years ago 

Population: 30-40 million (1700s); 20,000 (1924); nearly 1 million (present day) 

Weight: 7-9 lbs (3.5-4 kg) at birth; 75-130 lbs (34-59 kg) adult 

Horns: Bony interior covered by keratinous (horn-like) sheath shed annually (like antlers) 

Top Speed: 60 mph (100 kph)

Migration: 100+ miles  

Age: 7-10 yrs

 

Last Updated: Dec 21, 2014
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