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Head to head: the case for fighting behaviour in Megaloceros giganteus using finite-element analysis


Klinkhamer, Ada J; Woodley, Nicholas; Neenan, James M; Parr, William C H; Clausen, Philip; Sánchez-Villagra, Marcelo R; Sansalone, Gabriele; Lister, Adrian M; Wroe, Stephen (2019). Head to head: the case for fighting behaviour in Megaloceros giganteus using finite-element analysis. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 286:20191873.

Abstract

The largest antlers of any known deer species belonged to the extinct giant deer Megaloceros giganteus. It has been argued that their antlers were too large for use in fighting, instead being used only in ritualized displays to attract mates. Here, we used finite-element analysis to test whether the antlers of M. giganteus could have withstood forces generated during fighting. We compared the mechanical performance of antlers in M. giganteus with three extant deer species: red deer (Cervus elaphus), fallow deer (Dama dama) and elk (Alces alces). Von Mises stress results suggest that M. giganteus was capable of withstanding some fighting loads, provided that their antlers interlocked proximally, and that their antlers were best adapted for withstanding loads from twisting rather than pushing actions, as are other deer with palmate antlers. We conclude that fighting in M. giganteus was probably more constrained and predictable than in extant deer.

Abstract

The largest antlers of any known deer species belonged to the extinct giant deer Megaloceros giganteus. It has been argued that their antlers were too large for use in fighting, instead being used only in ritualized displays to attract mates. Here, we used finite-element analysis to test whether the antlers of M. giganteus could have withstood forces generated during fighting. We compared the mechanical performance of antlers in M. giganteus with three extant deer species: red deer (Cervus elaphus), fallow deer (Dama dama) and elk (Alces alces). Von Mises stress results suggest that M. giganteus was capable of withstanding some fighting loads, provided that their antlers interlocked proximally, and that their antlers were best adapted for withstanding loads from twisting rather than pushing actions, as are other deer with palmate antlers. We conclude that fighting in M. giganteus was probably more constrained and predictable than in extant deer.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Paleontological Institute and Museum
Dewey Decimal Classification:560 Fossils & prehistoric life
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology, General Immunology and Microbiology, General Agricultural and Biological Sciences, General Environmental Science, General Medicine
Language:English
Date:9 October 2019
Deposited On:17 Jan 2020 13:48
Last Modified:21 Jan 2020 11:37
Publisher:Royal Society Publishing
ISSN:0962-8452
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2019.1873

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