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The ability to thrive in difficult circumstances is a quality admired in people, but this characteristic is also found in wild animals that live in extreme environments.
Adapted for life on prairies and grasslands, pronghorn are the fastest land animal in North America, reaching speeds over 60 mph. They can endure painful temperatures down to 50 below zero F, and over 110 F, and are stung by high winds, blizzards, and large hailstones. Able to go without liquid water for weeks, pronghorn have extreme body-efficiency and the ability to produce metabolic water from the grasses they eat. For protection from predators, pronghorn babies are born with virtually no scent, and can run within minutes of being born! Pronghorn parents are constantly on the alert for predators such as coyotes, and will chase and kick them away from their young.
Look for pronghorn early in the morning in the vast grasslands surrounding the dunes, and discover why they are "Home, home on the range, where the deer and the antelope play"!
Photo: NPS/Patrick Myers
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This photo has been added to the park's Flickr page for free, higher resolution viewing and downloading:
Tammera L Bruce
Nick Powell 😊
Learn more about the mammals of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve:
We have at least one resident herd near our ranch, but across the valley we've seen as many as 200 in one large herd. Maybe they had a family reunion.