The animal - what was it like?

"I may truly say that this animal appeared especially beautiful to my eyes because its blue hair is so much like the colour of the sky [Himmelblau]." (Peter Kolb, 1719)


"Taking everything into consideration, we may reasonably conclude that this vanished Antilope was a beautiful and stately creature, with its handsome blue-grey coat and snowy under surface well set off by the graceful sweep of the elegant though moderate-sized horns." (Renshaw 1904)

Zoological information

"From the evidence that can be gathered from the few specimens of the blue antelope that still exist and the writings and drawings of early travellers, we can build up a picture of their appearance in life." Skinner (2005)

Click on the image below for authoritative information from Smithers and Skinner (2005):


Image © RMNH Naturalis / Kate Foster

Early images

Blue Antelopes became extinct before photography was developed, and only a handful of drawings were made while they lived.

Click on the images below for further information:

Pieter Kolb Pennant Robert Gordon Allamand LeVaillant
Kolb, 1719 Pennant 1771 Gordon, 1778 Allamand, 1778 Le Vaillant, 1781

After 1800 images were derived as copies, or from the four mounted specimens - themselves representations of what the taxidermists thought the animals looked like.

Blue antelopes’ close relatives – roan and sable antelopes – suggest how it might have looked and behaved. It was similar in terms of its sweeping horns and body shape, but was smaller than either, and had no mane. A recent artist's impression of the blue antelope in its habitat can be seen at

What of its colour, blue?

"Early reports are inconsistent: some attribute the blue colour to its hair, others to the underlying skin; some say that the colour faded after death, while others disagree." (Stephen Jay Gould)

Click on the images below for two early descriptions:

Cuvier Renshaw
Cuvier (1827) Renshaw (1904)

Click on the image below to see exactly what colour Blue Antelopes are now:

Colour chart

Image © RMNH Naturalis / Kate Foster

DNA and the Blue Antelope

Click on the image below for some drawings derived from scientific work identifying the DNA pattern of Blue Antelope:

Gene Pattern