WILDLIFE -- I go home to my hunting roots in Montana every year at this time, and the photo below (click continue reading) by Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson illustrates one of the reasons why.
A photo I made from my annual Montana hunting trip, above, illustrates several more reasons.
Read on for a few biological pointers on why the pronghorn (also called antelope) is so special.
Pronghorns -- commonly called antelope -- are more properly called pronghorns, a species unique to North America.
Pronghorns are the only endemic North American ungulate holdover from the era of the huge short-nosed bear, mammoths, ground sloths and other mega fauna.
The pronghorn is not a deer, antelope or goat, even though its scientific name, Antilocapra americana, means American antelope goat, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks literature.
The genus the antelope is in, Antilocapra, is unique to the U.S., Canada and Mexico and includes only one species. The name was derived from joining the Latin antholop, meaning pronghorn, and capra, meaning goat.
However, the pronghorn’s closest genetic relative is the giraffe, Montana officials confirmed.
In Montana, you might also hear locals call pronghorns prong-bucks, goats, speed-goats or lopers. That said, here in the Rocky Mountains people continue to refer to the pronghorn as an antelope—even if the animal has no connection to the ungulates of the same name in Asia and Africa