ANTELOPE

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ANTELOPE ; a genus of mammiferous, ruminant quadrupeds, intermediate to the deer and goat, first established by the Russian naturalist Pallas, and subsequently divided into numerous sections by Blainville, founded on characters furnished by the shape and curvature of the horns,&c. The characteristics of the genus are the following:horns persistent, hollow, resting on a solid, bony nucleus of the os frontis; straight, spiral, lyreshaped, annulated at base; marked with transverse bands, a salient spiral hue, or bifurcated in different species: gall bladder uniformly present, which is not possessed by deer. In other characters, the antelopes bear a very marked resemblance to the deer, except that some species of antelope have tufts of hair pendent from the carpus.Numerous as are the species of antelope, but two are found in Europe, and only one in Americathe chamois and saiga in the former, the pronghorn (q. v.) in the latter. All the rest are natives of the hottest parts of Asia and Africa. They are generally remarkable for the symmetry and delicacy of their forms, and surpassing celerity of movement. Their eyes are proverbial for largeness and lustre; their legs are slender and graceful, longer before than behind, whence they can run to greatest advantage on ascending ground. Possessing less of muscular vigor and compactness of frame than the deer, they do not advance by successive bounds, but by a regular race, the swiftness of which, in some species, almost exceeds imagination. They are, generally, yellow on the back, and white beneath, having a brown band separating these colors at the flank. The ears are long, straight, pointed, and somewhat dilated in the middle. Great varieties of appearance and habits are exhibited in the different species: some are monogamous and solitary; some prefer arid deserts, where but a scanty subsistence is to be obtained, of aromatic, acrid, or salttasted plants; others delight exclusively in the fresh herbage growing in the vicinity of rivers and marshes. One species, the chamois, delights to browse on the almost inaccessible summits of the icy Alps; almost all the others prefer the sultry plains of the torrid zone. In form, some of the species resemble a slender deer or goat; while a few others approximate considerably to the appearance of the ox. With a solitary exception, that of the gnu, they are gentle, timid, harmless, and easily tamed. The gnu is fierce and warlike, exhibiting through life a vicious and indomitable disposition. Many of the species are gregarious, living in herds or families, consisting of twenty or thirty individuals. They feed exclusively on vegetable food, and their flesh is regarded as a luxury when obtained in the proper season. Against their numerous enemies, they have no resort but in flight, and, swift as this is, it cannot save them from the unremitted pursuit of the jackal, or the insidious prowling of ihe tiger. Lions, leopards, ounces and other carnivorous tyrants lie in ambush for them at their drinkingplaces ; and man, aided by dogs and falcons, contributes his shareto their destruction. In the great system of balances established by nature, they seem peculiarly adapted for their situation, which is generally in countries where a luxuriant vegetation requires constant efforts to repress its superabundance ; while they, at the same time, furnish large supplies of food to numerous carnivorous animals, as well as to the human race. The following are the names of the subgenera proposed by Blainville, &c, and now generally adopted by naturalists:1. Antilope. 2. Gazella. 3. Cervicapra. 4. Alcelaphus. 5. Tragelaphus. 6. Oreas, Desm. 7. Boselaphus. 8. Oryx. 9. Egocerus, Desm. 10. Bupicaprd. 11. Antilocapra.