Pronghorn Antelope Facts: History, Habitats and Habits

An introduction to the pronghorn antelope, learn more pronghorn antelope facts including the history of the pronghorn antelope, food sources, habits and habitats of the pronghorn antelope.

| November/December 1987

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    The pronghorn antelope's comeback is among the most dramatic in history. The pronghorn's horns are unique. When the white rump patch is flared on a pronghorn antelope, it signals danger to the rest of the herd.
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    Map of the pronghorn antelope's distribution in North America.

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With "8-power" vision and 70 mph legs, the pronghorn is an American wonder. Learn more pronghorn antelope facts including the unique majesty of the pronghorn, indigenous regions and attributes and characteristics of the pronghorn antelope. 

Pronghorn Antelope Facts: History, Habitats and Habits

Hanging from the walls or resting on the mantel in the front room of my cabin are the antlers and horns of a variety of wild North American ungulates. Some are attached pairs, others individual beams. None are from animals I have killed myself. A few I picked up from the forest floor during backcountry hikes, others I bartered from friends who bagged them in such unromantic locales as flea markets and garage sales. Their origins don't matter so much to me; they aren't trophies; it's simply their forms I fancy.

There are some unusual and attractive specimens in my little collection, including a beautifully formed 4x5-point rack from a relatively rare Tule elk. But the most interesting piece of ungulate headgear I own is also the least impressive at first glance. Leaned up against the wall at the back of the mantel, its modest form fairly hidden behind a dusty potpourri of flint projectile points, elk teeth and the skulls of various rodents and birds, rests a small black horn from a male pronghorn antelope.

The interesting thing about this horn, and pronghorn horn in general, is its uniqueness: It's not antler, nor is it horn as we commonly know it, but it claims some of the characteristics of both.

Although the terms antler and horn are frequently used interchangeably in casual conversation, each refers to a distinct type of ungulate headgear. Consider these four differences: While mature antler is solid, dead, bloodless bone, horn consists of an outer sheath composed of keratin (a hard epidermal tissue of the type that forms hooves, claws and fingernails in mammals) wrapped around a porous, living, blood-filled core. While antlers are deciduous (that is, they're cast off and regrown annually), horns are never shed, with the original-issue models remaining on the job for the life of their host. While mature antlers are always bifurcated, or branched, horns are almost always simple unforked shafts. While it's highly unusual for antlers to appear on females (except caribou), horns are commonly grown by both sexes.

And now we come to the unique horns of the pronghorn, learn more about horns with these pronghorn antelope facts.

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