The Pronghorn Antelope (Antilocapra americana)

The pronghorn is the only existing (extant) member of the North American ungulate family: Antilocapridae. They are ruminants, meaning they have a four-chambered stomach and do not need to fully chew their food in order to digest it.

Which do you think is their closest living ancestor: the deer, the antelope, the goat, the cow, or the giraffe? Does your answer change if you were to learn that this species is the fastest land mammal in North America? That's right! The pronghorn can reach speeds of nearly 60mph, with a deer or antelope-like leap that can breach a gap of nine to nineteen feet. You might reasonably wonder why this animal is built for speed – it's the second fastest land mammal in the world, the fastest being the African cheetah. One hypothesis is that it was an adaptation that came about in response to being the main prey of the now-extinct Miracinonyx, or North American cheetah (whose closest living relative, by the way, is the mountain lion, puma concolor).

More things to know about pronghorns: they are largely diurnal, meaning they're most active during the day. They possess large eyes that are capable of seeing over four miles away. They also prefer to go under obstacles rather than around them. Because of this habit, fencing poses a major impediment to pronghorn movement across the landscape. Pronghorns are fascinating creatures. If you guessed they're closest living relative to be the giraffe – you're right!

✔️ Jirik, Kate. “LibGuides: Pronghorn (Antilocapra Americana) Fact Sheet: Summary.”, 6 Mar. 2024, Accessed 3 Apr. 2024.