Saturday, April 21, 2012

Pronghorns, New Mexico

Pronghorns (the "antelope" of "Home on the Range") like big, open country. I'd seen them previously in other places—Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado—but never have I seen so many as in northern New Mexico.

[Band of does]

[Mature buck in background, young buck or horned doeabout 40% of female pronghorns develop short, unforked horns—in foreground]

Years ago, I wondered aloud to a friend why pronghorns are so much faster (estimates range up to 60 mph) than they need to be. Fortunately, she had training in paleontology, and immediately supplied the answer: Up until about 10,000 years ago, the blink of an eye in evolutionary terms, Antilocapra americana was preyed upon by Miracinonyx, the American cheetah, and needed every bit of that speed.

I would love to see these hunted by trained Old World cheetahs...

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