Antelope

The antelope are a group of African animals of the family Bovidae, distinguished by a pair of hollow horns on their heads. There are many different species of antelope, ranging in size from tiny to very big. Antelope have powerful hindquarters and when startled they run with a peculiar bounding stride that makes them look as though they are bouncing over the terrain like a giant rabbit. Some species of antelope can reach speeds of 60 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour), making them among the fastest of land animals.

Black buck antelope have been imported into the United States, primarily for the purpose of "exotic game hunts," common in Texas.

There are no true antelope native to the Americas. The pronghorn antelope of the Great Plains belongs to family Antilocapridae. The pronghorn is the fastest animal in North America running at speeds up to 54 miles per hour (90 kilometers per hour). Unlike the hollow horns of true antelope, the horns of a pronghorn are made up of a hairlike substance that grows around a bony core; the outer sheath is shed annually.

The endangered African Oryx (Oryx beisa) is also an antelope. The Mongolian Gazelle (Procapra gutturosa), sometimes classified as an antelope, can run with a speed of 80 km/h (50 mph).

Cultural aspects

The antelope's horn is prized for medicinal and magical powers in many places. In the Congo, it is thought to confine spirits. Christian iconography sometimes uses the antelope's two horns as a symbol of the two spiritual weapons that Christians possess: the Old Testament and New Testaments. Their ability to run swiftly has also led to their association with the wind, such as in the Rig Veda, as the steeds of the Maruts and the wind god Vaya.





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