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17 animals amazingly adapted to thrive in deserts

By: Jaymi Heimbuch on March 4, 2014, 9 a.m.
sonoran pronghorn

Photo: John Kulberg /Shutterstock

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Sonoran pronghorn

Pronghorn, the fastest land animal in North America, can be found across the continent. However, the Sonoran pronghorn has adapted to live in a particularly difficult environment. It can eat and digest plants that other herbivores won’t touch, including dry desert grasses and even cactuses. It has teeth with particularly high crowns to handle abrasive foods, and its four-part stomach extracts as many nutrients as possible. Its hollow hairs trap heat to insulate it against freezing night temperatures, but it can also raise patches of hair to release trapped heat and cool off on hot days. Though amazingly adapted for desert environments, more frequent and prolonged droughts due to climate change may be more than the species can handle. Only around 100 Sonoran pronghorn remain in the wild in the United States.