Antilocapridae

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Antilocapridae
Temporal range: Early Miocene–Recent
Pronghorns in Fort Keogh, Montana
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Suborder: Ruminantia
Infraorder: Pecora
Superfamily: Giraffoidea
Family: Antilocapridae
Owen, 1841
Genus

See text.

The Antilocapridae are a family of artiodactyls endemic to North America. Their closest extant relatives are the giraffids with which they comprise the superfamily Giraffoidea. Only one species, the pronghorn (Antilocapra americana), is living today; all other members of the family are extinct. The living pronghorn is a small ruminant mammal resembling an antelope. It bears small, forked horns.

In most respects, antilocaprids resemble other ruminants. They have a complex, four-chambered stomach for digesting tough plant matter, cloven hooves, and a similar body shape to antelopes. Their horns resemble those of the bovids, in that they have a true horny sheath, but, uniquely, they are shed outside of the breeding season, and subsequently regrown. Their lateral toes are even further diminished than in bovids, with the digits themselves being entirely lost, and only the cannon bones remaining. Antilocaprids have the same dental formula as most other ruminants:

Dentition
0.0.3.3
3.1.3.3

Evolution[edit]

The antilocaprids evolved in North America, where they filled a niche similar to that of the bovids that evolved in the Old World. During the Miocene and Pliocene, they were a diverse and successful group, with many different species. Some had horns with bizarre shapes, or had four, or even six, horns. Examples include Osbornoceros, with smooth, slightly curved horns, Paracosoryx, with flattened horns that widened to forked tips, Ramoceros, with fan-shaped horns, and Hayoceros, with four horns.[1][2]

Species[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Savage, RJG, & Long, MR (1986). Mammal Evolution: an illustrated guide. New York: Facts on File. pp. 232–233. ISBN 0-8160-1194-X. 
  2. ^ Palmer, D., ed. (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 280. ISBN 1-84028-152-9.