THE EVOLUTION OF HORN-LIKE ORGANS by VALERIUS GEIST 1) (Zoology Department, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C., Canada) INTRODUCTION In the evolution of mammals horn-like organs have appeared a number of times. We find them assuming a great variety of forms; small, skin covered pedicles in the Okapi (Okapia), large horn curls in sheep (Ovis), or many-pointed, bizarre bony paddles in moose (Alces). Horns originated on different areas of the head and grew from several tissues. We find horns on animals as distantly related as Cervus, a deer, and Mylogaulus, a miocene rodent. Also, we find horns evolving independently a number of times in closely related groups, such as in the ruminants and the rhinos. It is inherent in our concept of the selective force in evolution that these organs, whatever their shape, size or position should have been an important, adaptive feature of their owner. Yet the evolution of horns and antlers has been a puzzling problem. COLBERT (1955, p. 398) writes: "on the fact of it, we would think that one good pair of horns would enable a species of antelope to protect itself and spread widely. Yet in Africa there are literally dozens of antelope
Behaviour – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1966
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