Amazon Quiz: What is the name of the extentions of animal skull found on this animal's head?
Amazon Quiz (May 13, 2022): What is the name of the extentions of animal skull found on this animal's head?
Antlers are animal skull extensions commonly found in deer species across the world.
Made of bone, cartilage, fibrous tissue, skin, blood vessels, and nerves, antlers are typically found on male deer, with the exception of reindeer: female reindeer also have antlers, but these are typically smaller in size in comparison to the antlers of their male counterparts.
Interestingly, antlers are not permanent features but are shed and grown every year.
Antlers primary serve two biological purposes: for sexual selection and as defensive weapons.
Vis-a-vis sexual selection, antlers have two functions: they can either aid males in fights to access female deer for reproduction. Alternatively, competing male deer also display their antlers to potential mates to showcase their their strength and fertility.
The other function of antlers is defence against predators: evidence shows that male deer retain their antlers from winter to spring, a period when they are particularly susceptible to predation.
These general uses apart, different deer species use antlers for different purposes: reindeer, for instance, use their antlers to shovel snow to find and eat vegetation under snow cover. Moose, meanwhile, use their antlers as giant hearing aids to bolster their already highly sensitive hearing.
It should be noted, however, that antlers are distinct from horns found on proghorns and bovine creatures: unlike antlers, horns are permanent features that are not shed.