News FocusJoint Congress on Evolutionary Biology

Insulin May Guarantee the Honesty of Beetle's Massive Horn

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Science  27 Jul 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6093, pp. 408-409
DOI: 10.1126/science.337.6093.408-a

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In rhinoceros beetles, horn size appears to be an honest indicator of male quality: Small male rhinoceros beetles never grow large horns to fool a rival. Biologists have long thought that's because the horns are too physiologically costly for small, undernourished males to build and support. But work presented at the meeting shows that, actually, horns are not a very big burden. Instead, the nature of the developmental pathway that leads to horns—and other sexually selected traits related to size—may be what guarantees that these traits are a true reflection of the rival's health and stature.