In the animal kingdom, males have weapons, and females have minds

People have been fascinated by them for centuries: animals armed with horns, horns and tusks. One of the oldest works of art ever found is a drawing of water buffalo horns and boar tusks, which was drawn in chalk on the cave walls about 45,000 years ago. Even then, prehistoric man must have been thinking: those richly decorated heads are what matter here.

But it proves that not all evolutionary development shows itself from the outside An article published in the scientific journal Behavioral ecology and sociobiology. The authors of the research argue that when male mammals of a certain species develop larger antlers or antlers, females sense the evolutionary growth spurt in the brain.

“I think females are often overlooked in biology,” said lead author Nicole Lopez of the University of Montana. “People think it looks boring or uninteresting, but its role should not be underestimated.”

A complex social system

Good news for the bodybuilders among us: a strong body doesn’t necessarily come with a low IQ. Although horned males do not match their female counterparts in terms of intelligence.

“We think males invest their horns and horns to send a signal to females,” says behavioral ecologist Ted Stankovich. The more important these signals are, the more complex the social system. Females, in turn, may need larger brains to be able to correctly interpret these signals: who they should mate with, and who they should not mate with.

Are females the decision-makers?

However, evolutionary biologist Umat Somji of the University of Texas questions this logic. Bigger brains don’t necessarily indicate higher intelligence, Somji says, and besides, researchers haven’t examined enough different animal species. However, the evolutionary biologist finds the research interesting.

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Somji is not surprised that people have been fascinated by animal weapons for centuries: after all, attracting attention is exactly what these structures are made for. “They are captivating us and misleading us,” Somji said.

Lopez can talk about that. To understand mate choice in mammals, the scientific literature has long focused on infighting between males, the author says. It is the largest, strongest, and best-armed species that will rule the animal kingdom, or so the prevailing opinion goes.

“But maybe we’ve been looking at it the wrong way all this time,” Lopez says. “It now seems a little more likely that female decision-making will ultimately be the decisive one.”

Megan Vasquez

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