Showing posts from June, 2012

Speed Goats

These are pronghorn antelope:

But they aren't actually antelope like the ones in Africa (Antilopinae). Pronghorn are all by themselves in their own taxonomic family of American antelope (Antilocapridae), roaming the sage flats around the Wild West, including here in Grand Teton National Park. They used to have about 12 other brother and sister species (some the size of small rabbits!), which, for whatever reason, didn’t have the evolutionary edge to survive the last two ice ages. The lone surviving species, however, is probably the park’s most spectacular example of adaptive success.
Most animals exist in constant stress with not enough food. Imagine being a ground squirrel in this ecosystem. Your preferred plant food is only available for a few short months, and everything is trying to eat you: wolves, bears, cougars, bobcats, hawks, falcons, badgers, coyotes, fox, weasels, etc. Your best bet to avoid becoming dinner is to spend a few short weeks aboveground to frantically gathe…