pronghorn

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Related to American antelope: American bison, American elk, pronghorn

pronghorn

or

prongbuck,

hoofed herbivorous mammal, Antilocapra americana, of the W United States and N Mexico. Although it is often called the American, or prong-horned, antelope, the pronghorn is the only living member of the Antilocapridae and is more closely related to the giraffe; antelopes are African and Eurasian members of the cattle family (Bovidae).

The pronghorn is about the size of a goat, standing 3 ft (90 cm) high at the shoulder and weighing about 100 lb (45 kg). The coat is light brown with white underparts, two white throat stripes, and a white rump patch. The tail is short, and the ears are long and pointed. Both sexes have horns, which consist of a horny sheath and a bony core, like those of antelopes; unlike antelope horns, those of the pronghorn bear a single branch, or prong, and lose the outer sheath each year.

Pronghorns live in small bands on open plains. Chiefly browsers, they feed largely on sagebrush and other shrubs, but also eat grasses. The swiftest of North American mammals, they attain speeds of 60 mi (96 km) per hr, but are poor jumpers. Their principal enemies, besides humans, are wolves and coyotes. Before the settlement of North America by Europeans pronghorns were comparable in numbers to buffalo; by the beginning of the 20th cent., however, they had been nearly exterminated by hunting. They are now protected on reservations, where they have made a good recovery.

Pronghorns are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Artiodactyla, family Antilocapridae.

Bibliography

See J. van Wormer, The World of the Pronghorn (1968).

pronghorn

[′präŋ‚hȯrn]
(vertebrate zoology)
Antilocapra americana. An antelopelike artiodactyl composing the family Antilocapridae; the only hollow-horned ungulate with branched horns present in both sexes.
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