Pronghorn Buck at Bryce Canyon National Park
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This species is high on the list of my favorite mammals, they are really quite amazing. They are the only surviving member of a family that once included at least 12 members, the rest all becoming extinct around the time of the last Ice Age (one was the Dwarf Pronghorn, only about 24" tall!). They are the second fastest land animal on the planet and the fastest in the Western Hemisphere (only the Cheetah is faster). It is said that within days of birth they can outrun the fastest humans and, by 4 to 5 weeks, can outrun a coyote. Top speed for adults is between 55 and 60 MPH (90 - 100 km/h). Their incredible eyesight is comparable to that of a human using an 8 power pair of binoculars and, with the positioning of their eyes (about the size of a horse's!), their field of view is about 320 degrees. It is also said they probably outnumbered the Bison in total population, and there are anecdotal stories from passengers on westbound trains telling of passing herds 70 miles long! By the turn of the 20th Century the population, which has been estimated to have numbered between 40 and 50 million, had been reduced to less than 20,000 by market hunting. The population has recovered to nearly 1 million and in some areas where they had been extirpated (like southern Utah) they have been reintroduced.
Their scientific name, Antilocapra americana, does translate to American antelope and in much of the west there are many people who call this animal an antelope, but they are, in truth, not closely related to the old world antelopes. Please call this unique animal by its proper name, Pronghorn.