Home Smithsonian: National Museum of Natural History Home
Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Collection: Species Details Lewis and Clark as Naturalists
Mammal    Species Name:
Antilocapra americana
Original name, or synonym, Antilope americana Ord, 1815.

Common Name:


Chamberlain, South Dakota
Near mouth of Bull Creek
  September 14, 1804

Not a goat, or an antelope . . .

The Corps began seeing a new large land mammal with forked horns and hooves in early September, 1804, as they made their way past the big bend of the Missouri in modern-day Nebraska.  From their point of view, and from a distance, the animals appeared to be some kind of goat, which is how they often referred to pronghorns in their journals.  What Lewis and Clark had discovered is one of the most unusual mammals in North America.  What science has since discovered about the pronghorn is an animal that survives as the only living species in its family, a family not very closely related to any other among hooved mammals, thus not closely related to any North American mammals--a truly unique thing! 

Lewis and Clark did note two obvious features that set pronghorns apart from goats.  They do not grow beards and their horns are forked.  Their graceful features led Captain Clark to say they resembled African antelope, or gazelles.  From Clark's description in 1804 to this day, pronghorn are often mistakenly called pronghorn antelope!  Despite their Latin name, Prongorn are not deer, or goat, or antelope, they are uniquely pronghorn.

For more information about this North American mammal, click here.

Journal Entries:

Capt. Clark, September 5, 1804--Set out early the wind blew hard from the South, Goats, turkeys Seen today, . . . .
Capt. Clark,...  more>>

References Guthrie, William, A new system of modern geography: or, a geographical, historical, and commercial grammar, and present state of the several nations of the world...2nd Edition, Johnson and Warner, Philadelphia and Richmond, 1815

see following caption

See following caption

Smithsonian Institution
Copyright Notice
Privacy Notice