Females also have horns, but they are much smaller.African buffalo have a democracy. In developing the conspicuousness measure, the researchers hypothesized that taller species living in the open are more visible from longer distances and more likely to benefit from horns to defend themselves against predators. The horns from cows (i.e., female buffalo) measure 8" to 14" long on the outside curve. That is, large size may reduce escape speed and enhance the need for horns. Specifically, to investigate factors involved in the evolution of weaponry in female bovids, Stankowich and Caro first categorized the females of 117 bovine species as horned or not. This photo shows the differences between the male and female bison. Specifically, to investigate factors involved in the evolution of weaponry in female bovids, Stankowich and Caro first categorized the females of 117 bovine species as horned or not. (422 to 998 kilograms).The European bison is the largest herbivore in Europe, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. These horns can grow to 5 feet (1.5 meters) long. While it's around the same length as the American bison, it is typically heavier. They weigh about 1 pound each. Pitting the different variables against each other in a series of multiple linear regression models, Stankowich and Caro calculated phylogenetic contrasts for each factor and found that conspicuousness had a statistically significant effect on presence of horns in females and the greatest effect among the five variables. Thank you for taking your time to send in your valued opinion to Science X editors. The two exceptions identified by Stankowich and Caro are the female African bongo, large antelope found in dense forests which use their horns to establish dominance within female groups, and the female mountain anoa, a small water buffalo, which we know very little about but the females may indeed be territorial like other members of its genus (Bubalus). Get weekly and/or daily updates delivered to your inbox. Why Female Water Buffalo Have Horns but Impala Do Not? They include Asian water buffalo, African or Cape buffalo, bantengs, gaur, yaks, bison, and all domestic cattle. Past hypotheses about horns evolving for defense in females predicted that only heavy species are able to defend themselves and would benefit from horns. This site uses cookies to assist with navigation, analyse your use of our services, and provide content from third parties. “Our study shows that it is not necessarily the animal’s size but rather its conspicuousness that counts most, and this is a product of the openness of habitat and body height,” Stankowich adds. (PhysOrg.com) -- The reason some female hoofed animals have horns while others do not has long puzzled evolutionary biologists, even the great Charles Darwin. The size and shape of their horns reflects sex and age. Buffalo tend to have large horns—some have reached more than 6 feet (1.8 meters)—with very pronounced arcs. Buffalo horns curve outward. Past hypotheses about horns evolving for defense in females predicted that only heavy species are able to defend themselves and would benefit from horns. Female buffalo have a gestation period of 11 months and mating takes place during the late summer. Males also develop a thicker neck, a larger hump over the shoulders, and a fringe of long hairs around the throat that looks a bit like a beard, but is called a "dewlap". Bison are large, powerful animals. Both males and females have horns, but the males horns grow larger and can measure close to 4 feet across. Both male and female bison have short, curved, black horns, which can grow to two feet (0.6 meters) long. By developing the conspicuousness measure—the product of openness of habitat and shoulder height—as well as female territoriality for this analysis, Stankowich and Caro say they can explain “nearly every instance of horns in female bovids (80 of 82 species).” Their article appears in the current issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Thus, a medium-sized species living in the desert like a gazelle is very conspicuous and could benefit from horns, but a large species living in the dense jungle like a bushbuck can still remain hidden from predators and have no use for horns. “Our goal was to explain EVERY instance and we think we did just that, given what we know about these two exceptions,” notes Stankowich. This document is subject to copyright. –The reason some female hoofed animals have horns while others do not has long puzzled evolutionary biologists, even the great Charles Darwin. This exposure metric multiplied a species’ shoulder height measurement factor by mean openness of primary habitat. Sixty-five animals were either shot or found dead, mainly in the summer months. This exposure metric multiplied a species’ shoulder height measurement factor by mean openness of primary habitat. The material examined came from two sources. A mature bull stands about 2 metres (6.5 feet) at the shoulder and weighs more than 900 kg (1,980 pounds). Their first analysis tested shoulder height and habitat openness separately, but they also designed a composite measure that accounted for shoulder height while weighting openness more heavily. “Different selection pressures are responsible for diverse weaponry in ungulates,” Caro and Stankowich summarize. Both male and female wild cattle species have horns, but the bull’s (male) horns are much larger and thicker than the cow’s (female). Both genders have horns. Contact: Ted Stankowich, 413/545-0035; [email protected] The use of phylogenetic contrasts meant the researchers could take species relatedness with one another into account. Male water buffalo have horns that curve backward. 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