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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Pronghorn



Beauty Of Animal | Pronghorn | The pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) is a species of artiodactyl mammal endemic to interior western and central North America. Though not an antelope, it is often known colloquially in North America as the prong buck, pronghorn antelope, or simply antelope, as it closely resembles the true antelopes of the Old World and fills a similar ecological niche due to convergent evolution. It is the only surviving member of the family Antilocapridae. 
During the Pleistocene period, 12 antilocaprid species existed in North America. About five existed when humans entered North America[citation needed] and all but A. americana are now extinct Each "horn" of the pronghorn is composed of a slender, laterally flattened blade of bone that grows from the frontal bones of the skull, forming a permanent core. 
As in the Giraffidae, skin covers the bony cores, but in the pronghorn it develops into a keratinous sheath which is shed and regrown on an annual basis. Unlike the horns of the family Bovidae, the horn sheaths of the pronghorn are branched, each sheath possessing a forward-pointing tine (hence the name pronghorn). The horns of males are well developed. Fleet-footed pronghorns are among the speediest animals in North America. They can run at more than 53 miles (86 kilometers) an hour, leaving pursuing coyotes and bobcats in the dust. Pronghorns are also great distance runners that can travel for miles at half that speed.
Pronghorns are about three feet (one meter) tall at the shoulders. They are reddish brown, but feature white stomachs and wide, white stripes on their throats. When startled they raise the hair on their rumps to display a white warning patch that can be seen for miles. By the 1920s, hunting pressure had reduced the pronghorn population to about 13,000. Protection of habitat and hunting restrictions have allowed their numbers to recover to an estimated population of between 500,000 and 1,000,000. 
There has been some recent decline in a few localized populations, due to blue tongue disease which is spread from sheep; however the overall trend has been positive since conservation measures were put in place. Pronghorn migration corridors are threatened by habitat fragmentation and the blocking of traditional migration routes. In a migration study conducted by Lava Lake Institute for Science and Conservation and the Wildlife Conservation Society, at one point the migration corridor bottlenecks to an area only 200 yards wide.

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