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Integrating development with evolution: a case study with beetle horns



Integrating development with evolution: a case study with beetle horns



BioScience 50(5): 403-418



Findings from studies of the mechanisms of beetle horn development elucidate scientists' understanding of beetle horn evolution. Beetle horns are inflexible extensions of the exoskeleton that are as dramatic as the antlers of elk or moose. The behavior associated with horns and the development of horns have been investigated for the same two species, Onthophagus taurus and O. acuminatus. The length of the horns varies significantly among individuals of both species, and this variation scales with body size. Large, horned males guard entrances to tunnels that contain females and fight with all other males that attempt to enter the tunnel. Hornless males try to enter guarded tunnels by circumventing the defending male, either by slipping undetected past him or by digging a side tunnel that intercepts the guarded tunnel below ground. The writer discusses such topics as the development of beetle horns, constraints on horn evolution, and the hidden costs of producing horns.

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Accession: 003480514

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

DOI: 10.1641/0006-3568(2000)050[0403:idweac]2.0.co;2


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