What makes male antlers and horns so large?

male roe deer 9Scientists have often wondered why male ungulate antlers and horns are so large and now they have come up with the finding that the horn-like appendages of the deer is not just a decoration but also an indication of its individual quality.

Researchers from CEFS-INRA, LBBE- CNRS and ONCFS in France, Grimso Wildlife Research Station in Sweden and CEES in Norway have investigated this issue in the European roe deer and were surprised by the findings.

The results suggest that the antler size of male roe deer mainly reflects their age and body mass and the ability to fight and dominate. In fact, it’s the size of this antler which attracts the females looking for a high quality mate.

Petter Kjellander said,

Males may also use antler size of rival males as a cue to assess the possibility of winning a fight in order to control and monopolize more females for reproduction.

Interestingly, Charles Darwin had said more or less the same while proposing his theory of evolution and sexual selection. He felt that the size of male ungulate antlers and horns reflect male individual quality and signified male sexual vigor, strength and even hierarchical status.

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