Sexual selection

March 24, 2009 • 9:42 am

by Greg Mayer

There’s a nice article by Nicholas Wade in today’s NY Times about the evolution of horns, antlers, and other organs of weaponry and display.  Much of the article explicates a recent review article, The Evolution of Animal Weapons, by Douglas Emlen of the University of Montana. Wade writes

Dr. Emlen noticed a tendency for weapons to start out small, like mere bumps of bone, and then to evolve to more ornate form. The small weapons are actually quite destructive since their only role is to attack other males. But the more baroque weapons, even though they look more fearsome, seem to cause lesser loss of life.

There’s a truly fabulous slide show of beetle weaponry by Emlen and his collaborators accompanying the online article, and a nice graphic on the diversity of weaponry in the print and online versions.  A taste of the slide show:Oxysternon conspicillatumYou really must see the whole thing.

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