Pronghorn

  • Pronghorn viewing artillery sheds.
  • Pronghorn herd on Chinati grounds.
  • Pronghorn fawns.
  • Pronghorn in Chinati field.

One of the most majestic animals of the Trans-Pecos is the pronghorn. Pronghorn are sometimes also called antelope, but they are actually a distinct species whose evolutionary branch can be traced back 12,000 years. Their closest living relatives are the giraffe and okapi. Pronghorn are the fastest land animal on the continent, with the ability to sprint up to 55mph and keep a pace of 35mph for miles and miles. When a pronghorn is alarmed, the bright white hair on their rump stands up to warn others that danger is afoot. Although they can jump a fence, they’d rather clamber underneath it. Complications from fencing the pronghorns’ habitat has caused their numbers to decline. That said, successful efforts in West Texas have been made to replenish pronghorn to the region and they can often be spotted browsing the grasslands. It’s not uncommon to see pronghorn on Chinati’s grounds, with some even taking the time to check out Donald Judd’s work!

Horns vs. antlers

Did you know that horns and antlers are not the same thing? Animals like the cattle around Marfa have horns that grow all their lives and never fall off. Both male and female cattle, goats and bison can have horns. These horns don’t form branches and they’re made out of keratin, like your fingernails. Antlers, though, are made of bone. Animals like deer or elk shed their antlers annually and grow new ones the following year. Have you ever seen a deer’s antlers? They are different from horns because they make forks and branches.

There is one animal in all the world that grows appendages on their foreheads that have characteristics of both horns and antlers. The pronghorn! Male pronghorns, and some females, grow horns made out of keratin. These horns, though, make a fork like an antler, which give the pronghorn their name. Pronghorn also shed their horns every year, as though they were antlers. How cool is that!

Inspired by the pronghorns’ unique horns, can you make your own set of horns and/or antlers? What material (for example paper, aluminum foil, fabric) might you make them out of? How big do you want your horns/antlers to be? How will you attach them to your head?