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Biodiversity Blog


Animal Weapons


October's Science Under the Stars event features 2021 Stengl-Wyer Scholar Ummat Somjee in a talk titled:

Animal Weapons: The evolution of horns, tusks, antlers and other signals


Thursday, October 12th, 7 pm

Brackenridge Field Lab, 2907 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703


Ummat studies the evolution of exaggerated sexually selected traits in animals. In this talk, Ummat will illuminate the fascinating realm of animal weaponry found in nature, discussing their diverse manifestations, evolutionary origins, and the captivating reasons behind their existence. You can learn even more about his research here.

More details: Elephant tusks, giraffe weevil heads, elk antlers and rhinoceros horns are all examples of animal weapons. Animals use these structures to fight, leading to some of the most extreme and elaborate structures in nature. These animal weapons can be large and conspicuous; they draw our attention and capture our curiosity. However, weapons are not always what they seem, animals have developed complex rituals around fighting and competition, many of which still remain a puzzle in the field of animal behavior. The more we study these structures, the more we find that there is so much more going on than we can actually see. What are the unexpected parallels between human boxing matches and the ritualized fights in tusked weevils?  Why are some weapons sometimes so large they seem no longer functional in fights? Why are some weapons also dazzling and beautiful? Why do some weapons appear invisible? These are just some of the questions that arise during our tour of weapons in the natural world.

Somjee web 400x400
 Ummat Somjee

The evening kicks off at 7 pm with engaging activities at our natural history and kids’ activities tables. At 7:15 pm, there will be a guided tour of the Brackenridge Field Laboratory, offering you a unique glimpse into the ongoing field research. The main event begins promptly at 8 pm with Ummat's talk, followed by an interactive Q&A session.

Learn more about this Science Under the Stars event by clicking here.

Meet Stengl-Wyer Scholar: Ed Basham
Meet Stengl-Wyer Fellow: Kristina Black

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