The pronghorn is the fastest land animal in North America, and the second fastest in the world. Only the African cheetah can run faster, but even then, the cheetah is only faster for the first 100 meters or so, after that, the big cat flags a bit, but the pronghorn can sustain its fast pace for much longer distances.
Pronghorn evolved for speed way back in pre-glacial North America when a whole host of other animals existed here. Believe it or not, there was actually a North American version of the cheetah, which is probably what the pronghorn was doing its best to run away from. Interestingly, in terms of long term survival, it turns out that the pronghorn outlasts the cheetah once again. The North American cheetah did not survive the glacial periods of the late pleistocene, but the pronghorn did.
A new book, A Pronghorn Year – A Visual Tribute to North America’s Pronghorn by Dick Kettlewell tells the story of the pronghorn with a host of wonderful photos. The book serves as an excellent overview of this fascinating animal that is truly a joy to see running out there on the plains and the larger valleys of the West.