Did you know the pronghorn (sometimes called the American antelope) is the fastest running animal in North America? Adults can run 55 miles per hours (88 km/hr). At only four days old, a pronghorn calf can outrun a human.
The pronghorn is not really an antelope, as antelopes are native to Africa, India, and Asia. People started calling pronghorns antelopes simply because they have a vague resemblance to some of the true antelopes. The closest living relatives of the pronghorn are giraffes and the okapi.
Okay, so why are antelopes so incredibly fast? Partly because they live in open prairies where the only way to escape predators is running. But this doesn't explain why they are so much faster than other prairie mammals—white-tailed deer and mule deer have top speeds of only 35 mph (56 km/hr). And the pronghorn is far faster than the fastest living predators in North America. Why?
One good explanation is that the pronghorn evolved alongside some of the fastest predators in North America that are now extinct, such as the two species of American cheetah. These two big cats went extinct about 16,000 years ago, but the pronghorn still exists and is still as fast as it needed to be to escape the American cheetahs.
Pronghorns are slower than modern cheetahs (of Africa and Iran), but pronghorns can run at top speed for far longer, which probably allowed them to escape from American cheetahs most of the time.
- Pronghorns running - DepositPhotos
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