Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
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.
| 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.
The nose or muzzle of the fawn appears short or stubby, when compared to older
pronghorn. Generally, only four cheek teeth show.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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).
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