JUN 02, 2020 10:09 AM PDT

Why Do So Many Animals Have Different Styles of Headgear?

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

A substantial number of animals have evolved to have ornate and functional headgear that can help them defend themselves against potential threats, such as predators or rivaling males. This headgear can come in the form of antlers, fangs, horns, or tusks, and in most cases, you’ll find them on the heads of herbivores that lack any other form of natural self-defense from vicious or otherwise hungry predators.

Animals like deer, rams, and even rhinos all sport some sort of headgear, but they vary in shape and size. In any case, almost all of these animals will use their headgear as a means of fighting with other males for dominance, and if it comes down to it, use it as a means of self-defense against predators that can easily overpower them. As an added bonus, it seems that females seem to favor males of various species with larger horns or antlers, which means that headgear plays a role in mating success as well.

Headgear sporting animals typically have thick skulls that can both support their own headgear and withstand the impact of an enemy’s headgear. Some animals use their headgear as a charging weapon to impale or push their enemy, while others lock heads with the enemy and wrestle with one another until one submits. The best case scenario is when a male sports massive headgear, as it can be used to intimidate potential opponents before a struggle ever breaks out.

It’s worth noting that not all headgear-sporting animals get to keep it year-round. Antlered animals shed their antlers every year and re-grow them, whereas horn-bearing animals keep their existing headgear for life. One major difference between the two is that antlers are quite literally exposed bone, whereas horns are keratin reinforced.

Even some insects and reptiles sport headgear, and many of these animals use their horns for similar purposes. It’s particularly interesting how each animal uses its headgear given the fact that these animals vary substantially from one to another.

Related: Two moose were allegedly frozen in time with their antlers locked together amid a tough battle

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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