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Aging Antelope
It's All in the Teeth

Through the Ages

While it is possible to determine whether a pronghorn is a fawn by looking at its incisors or front teeth, cheek teeth -- specifically those of the lower jaw -- harbor the most reliable clues.

To get a good look at cheek teeth (premolars and molars), you need to cut back the lip and cheek skin. If you plan to have the head mounted, let your taxidermist skin out the head and remove the jaw for you.

JPG -- Pronghorn tooth crowns
Unlike deer, permanent molars and premolars of pronghorn lack branched roots. The long crowns (see arrows) extend deep into the jaw. Because of this, antelope teeth are continually emerging; therefore, determining antelope age by tooth wear is not an exact science. Deer teeth stop growing by age 2½; aging their teeth by wear is more reliable.

Four Months:

The nose or muzzle of the fawn appears short or stubby, when compared to older pronghorn. Generally, only four cheek teeth show.

JPG -- Four month cheek teeth

1½ Years:

Central two permanent front teeth are in. Six cheek teeth are visible in the lower jaw. The third premolar may still have three cusps, or the permanent third premolar may now be in (two cusps). Third molar may still be erupting through the gum. Lingual crest of molars have sharp points.

JPG -- 1½ year teeth

2½ Years:

Most animals have permanent middle four incisors. Look closely at the fourth cheek tooth (first molar). The cusps are sharp and show little wear. The seven pits, or infundibula, of the last three molars are still distinct (one pit per cusp of each tooth), but are becoming reduced on the fourth cheek tooth (first molar).

JPG -- 2½ year teeth

3½ Years:

Middle six permanent incisors, and permanent premolars are all present. Infundibula of the molars are all visible but only form small pits on fourth cheek tooth (first molar).

JPG -- 3½ year teeth

4½ Years:

Eight front (incisorform) teeth present. Usually only four infundibulum (pits) visible in last three cheek teeth (molars). Infundibulum of fourth cheek tooth (first molar) are gone.

JPG -- 4½ year teeth

5½ Years and older:

In most hunted pronghorn populations, less than five percent of the animals are more than five years old. Accurately aging these animals by tooth wear is usually more guesstimation than science. In general, pronghorn close to 5½ years will show considerable wear on the premolars. Usually only three infundibulum will be present in last three cheek teeth (molars).

JPG -- 5½ year teeth

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