Illustrations of the walking and stotting gaits of the pronghorn (Antilocapra americana)

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The pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) is renowned for its extreme speed and endurance when galloping - a topic which I do not address in this Post.

Instead, my aim is to illustrate the following, lesser-known gaits of the pronghorn, viz.

  • various walking gaits, and
  • various display gaits, the function of which is partly to signal individual fitness to predators and/or conspecifics.

The gaits of the pronghorn were well-documented more than 40 years ago (Bullock 1982, and and and and

However, it is only now that there are enough photos of this species on the Web to illustrate certain gaits clearly. The terms I use do not necessarily correspond to those of Bullock (1982).



Semi cross-walking: and




Scroll in

Scroll in


The pronghorn conforms to a category of ungulates that I have called 'plains game'.

This is because it combines the following features/traits:

Species of 'plains game' in the family Bovidae, in Africa and Eurasia, typically amble. I refer to all Alcelaphini and Hippotagini, and certain Antilopini, Reduncini, and possibly Caprini.

Based on its evolutionary convergences with 'plains game', we would expect the pronghorn to amble.

However, Bullock (1982) - despite the thoroughness of his study - did not find the pronghorn to amble.

So, is it true that the pronghorn is anomalous relative to bovid 'plains game', in lacking an ambling gait?

My study, as illustrated in this Post, offers a correction to Bullock (1982). In fact, the pronghorn does sometimes amble.

The pronghorn is partly aligned with Cervidae, a family in which ambling is absent in even those species

  • most resembling 'plains game', e.g. Cervus canadensis, and
  • with the most lateral placement of the eyes, e.g. Dama dama.

The following ( and and show the cross-walk typical of Cervidae.

On this basis, it would seem that the pronghorn incongruously combines cross-walking with extreme speed and endurance of galloping.

The diagnostic pattern of 'diagonal' walking gaits - including the cross-walk of the pronghorn - is that the hind foot lifts only once the contralateral foot lands, and the hind foot lands approximately in the track of the ipsilateral fore foot ( and and and and

Bullock (1982) documented that the pronghorn varies this in two ways, viz.

  • the hind foot lifts only once the contralateral fore foot lands (= what I term 'nearly ambling'), and/or
  • the hind foot lands slightly anterior to the track of the ipsilateral fore foot (possibly shown in

However, Bullock (1982) failed to document the full versatility of walking gaits in the pronghorn.

The following ( shows this versatility. The juvenile individual on the left is cross-walking, while that on the right is ambling.

In the case of 'display gaits', there is also something new to be investigated about the pronghorn. This is the possibility of two 'display gaits' additional to stotting (in the narrow sense).

These are

However, I have found few unambivalent illustrations of stotting/display gaits in the pronghorn, in either the strict or the loose sense. According to Bullock (1982), stotting is mainly an intraspecific (as opposed to anti-predator) display in the pronghorn, and observed mainly in the breeding season. However, this remains poorly documented photographically.

Stotting in the pronghorn less bouncy than in the sympatric Odocoileus hemionus hemionus. The footfall-pattern is similar, but the height is so much less that stotting hardly seems to demonstrate fitness in the pronghorn.

It is remarkable that infants seem not to stot during play behaviour ( and

The pronghorn is extreme, among ungulates, in advertising itself by means of white piloerection of a bleeze on the hindquarters ( and and

However, any correlation between gait and the piloerection of this acetabulo-ischiopygal bleeze - which often occurs when the figure is stationary - is weak.


This investigation has raised three main questions about the gaits of the pronghorn, as follows. In this species,

  • under which circumstances does ambling occur?
  • why - in adaptive terms - has the pronghorn retained a cross-walking gait, despite otherwise conforming to 'plains game'? and
  • why does stotting occur mainly for intraspecific display and in adults, rather than - as in most other ruminants - mainly for anti-predator display and in infants and juveniles?

Also see

Publicado el abril 11, 2024 09:39 TARDE por milewski milewski


The following ( contains clear footage of cross-walking, semi cross-walking, trotting, and proud-trotting in Antilocapra americana.

Publicado por milewski hace 3 meses
Publicado por milewski hace 3 meses

Precociality of the acetabulo-ischiopygal bleeze (on the hindquarters) in Antilocapra americana:

Publicado por milewski hace 3 meses
Publicado por milewski hace 3 meses

An incorrect answer from Perplexity AI, April 2024:

Publicado por milewski hace 3 meses

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