Spotless cousin exudes substance akin to acne medication, researchers find
CASPER, Wyo. - Pronghorn antelope are more closely related to giraffes than to antelope, and secrete compounds nearly identical to acne medication, researchers say.
Pronghorn are more like giraffes and okapi, a mulelike forest mammal from the Congo region in Africa, but much smaller with a very short neck, according to a study published in the Scientific Journal.
"Pronghorns are totally different in many ways from true antelope, which are only native to Europe and Africa," said professor William Wood of the Department of Chemistry at Humboldt State University in California.
"Pronghorn sheds its outer horn and the African antelopes don't do that. They keep their horns for life," he said. "And African antelopes' glands are very different from a pronghorn's."
American pronghorn exude anti-bacterial compounds from glands in their feet nearly the same as everyday skin care products, his research found. The animal's secretion includes cetyl and myristyl alcohol, which are available in many over-the-counter skin products.
"I'm not sure if it's a coincidence or not," Wood told the Casper Star-Tribune from his Arcata, Calif., office.
"The compounds keep bacteria down on the antelope's skin," he said. "My theory is that a lot of these glands that animals have that people say is for scent marking … is really places where antelope antibiotics are stored and used by the animal."
Fossils indicate pronghorn roamed North America in their present form as early as over 1 million years ago. As many as 40 million may have roamed the continent at one time, as abundant as bison.
During the early 20th century, only 13,000 remained, but management efforts have increased pronghorn numbers to over a million today.