This article is about the antlers of deer and related species. They are true bone and are a single structure. Antlers are shed and regrown each year and function primarily as objects of sexual attraction and as weapons in fights between males for control of harems. Horns are never shed and continue to grow mule deer by peggy bauer pdf the animal’s life.
The exception to this rule is the pronghorn which sheds and regrows its horn sheath each year. They usually grow in symmetrical pairs. In most species, antlers appear to replace tusks. Antlers are usually found only on males.
Velvet covers a growing antler, providing blood flow that supplies oxygen and nutrients. Each antler grows from an attachment point on the skull called a pedicle. Once the antler has achieved its full size, the velvet is lost and the antler’s bone dies. This dead bone structure is the mature antler.
In most arctic and temperate-zone species, antler growth and shedding is annual, and is controlled by the length of daylight. Although the antlers are regrown each year, their size varies with the age of the animal in many species, increasing annually over several years before reaching maximum size. Some equatorial deer never shed their antlers. Antlers function as weapons in combats between males, which sometimes cause serious wounds, and as dominance and sexual displays. Male-male competition can take place in two forms. Males with the largest antlers are more likely to obtain mates and achieve the highest fertilization success due to their competitiveness, dominance and high phenotypic quality. Whether this is a result of male-male fighting or display, or of female choosiness differs depending on the species as the shape, size, and function of antlers vary between species.
There is evidence to support that antler size influences mate selection in the red deer, and has a heritable component. Despite this, a 30-year study showed no shift in the median size of antlers in a population of red deer. Alternatively, the lack of response could be explained by the relationship between heterozygosity and antler size, which states that males heterozygous at multiple loci, including MHC loci, have larger antlers. The evolutionary response of traits that depend on heterozygosity is slower than traits that are dependent on additive genetic components and thus the evolutionary change is slower than expected.
This is one possible reason that females of this species evolved antlers. Another possible reason is for female competition during winter foraging. Male and female reindeer antlers differ in several respects. Males shed their antlers prior to winter, while female antlers are retained throughout winter. Also, female antler size plateaus at the onset of puberty, around age three, while males antler size increases during their lifetime. This likely reflects the differing life history strategies of the two sexes, where females are resource limited in their reproduction and cannot afford costly antlers, while male reproductive success depends on the size of their antlers because they are under directional sexual selection.
Equipped with large, highly adjustable external ears, moose have highly sensitive hearing. Discarded antlers represent a source of calcium, phosphorus and other minerals and are often gnawed upon by small animals, including squirrels, porcupines, rabbits and mice. This is more common among animals inhabiting regions where the soil is deficient in these minerals. Antlers shed in oak forest inhabited by squirrels are rapidly chewed to pieces by them. For a time only total length or spread was recorded. Deer bred for hunting on farms are selected based on the size of the antlers.
Hunters have developed terms for antler parts: beam, palm, brow, bez or bay, trez or tray, royal, and surroyal. The second branch is also called an advancer. This is due to the high levels of chalk in Yorkshire. The chalk is high in calcium which is ingested by the deer and helps growth in the antlers. The North American Shed Hunting Club, founded in 1991, is an organization for those who take part in this activity. 10 per pound, with larger specimens in good condition attracting higher prices. The most desirable antlers have been found soon after being shed.
The value is reduced if they have been damaged by weathering or being gnawed by small animals. A matched pair from the same animal is a very desirable find but often antlers are shed separately and may be separated by several miles. Some enthusiasts for shed hunting use trained dogs to assist them. In most US States, the possession of or trade in parts of game animals is subject to some degree of regulation, but the trade in antlers is widely permitted. 25,000 CAD, as the Canadian government considers antlers to belong to the people of Canada and part of the ecosystems in which they are discarded.