PRONGBUCK, PRONGHORN, or (in America) simply ANTELOPE, the sole existing representative of a family (Antllocapridae) of hollow-horned ruminants in which the horn-sheaths are forked and annually shed and renewed. Standing about 3 ft. high at the shoulder and slightly more at the croup, the male prongbuck has the black horns rising vertically upwards immediately above the eyes. The general colour is bright sandy fawn, with much white on the face, three white bars on the throat and white under parts and buttocks. The white throat-bands are evidently protective; and the long white hair on the buttocks can be erected and expanded into large chrysanthemum-like bunches as in Japanese deer; these being guides to the members of the herd when in flight. The tail is short; lateral hoofs are wanting; and the teeth are tall-crowned. Female prongbuck produce one or two young at a birth, and are either hornless or furnished with small and more or less rudimentary horns.
Prongbuck, of which two races, the typical AntUocapra americana and A. mexicana, are recognized by American naturalists, inhabit the open plains of the temperate districts of western North America, where they were formerly very abundant. Nowadays their numbers have become greatly diminished and small and isolated bands represent the great herds of former years. Young prongbuck are very liable to be attacked by wolves; to protect them from these marauders the females first clear an area in the middle of a patch of cactus, by jumping on the plants with their sharp hoofs, and bring forth their offspring in the protected space. Certain extinct American ruminants, namely Cosoryx, Blastomeryx and Merycodus are believed to be in some way related to the prongbuck; but they have frontal appendages more like antlers than horns. In view of this presumed relationship it seems preferable to retain the family Antilocapridae rather than relegate it to the rank of a sub-family of Bovidae. (See PECORA.) (R. L.*)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)