Anonim

Facing upwards, spiraling or curving backwards, small or large, on the nose or forehead, one, two or sometimes three …

We are obviously talking about horns. But what are those strange appendages that are on the head of some animals and what are they for? And why not everyone? For example, among the 4, 629 known species of mammals, only a few ungulates (10 families out of 91) have them. These include oxen, goats, buffalo (pictured), rhinos, deer and giraffes.

But there are also horned reptiles and some strange insects with strange appendages.

So are you ready to follow us to discover the horns?

There is no certain and unambiguous answer as to why some species have developed horns. Surely their function depends on the territory in which the different animals live. For those in the mountains, for example, it is assumed that the horns are a system for regulating body temperature. Herbivores such as the sheep of the rocky mountains or the ibex do not suffer from harsh climates, but begin to have problems when the temperature increases (even at only 20 degrees): the horny tissue could act as a vasodilator to disperse the heat, thus lowering the body temperature the animal. For African animals, such as this antelope (Tragelaphus angasi) that controls its harem during watering, the horns would be used instead to fight and conquer the females.

The horns of the bovids, that is, of antelopes, gazelles and ibexes, but also of oxen, rams, buffaloes and bison are formed by a tissue similar to keratin, which constitutes our nails.

And just like the nails, the horns also grow gradually. Unfortunately, however, they are permanent and are not able to regenerate: once broken or broken, they do not grow again. As it happened to this gazelle (Gazella thomsonii) "scornata" after a fight with another male or the attack of a predator in the Serengeti Park in Tanziania.

When we talk about animals with horns, we usually think of deer, oxen or ibex without distinction. In reality, however, those of deer (and all cervids such as moose and reindeer) are not horns but stages, that is temporary appendages made of bones that sprout during the mating season and then fall.

The process that leads to the formation of the stages is not painless, so the males in this period are very nervous.

The amplitude of the boxes that each year have more extensive branches and in some cases can even reach two meters, is also an important energy indicator, a signal of the animal's physical state to establish hierarchies and, when possible, avoid the clashes with other males.

The rocky mountains (Ovis canadensis) have very large spiral horns that can reach up to 50 centimeters in length from side to side.

Due to man's wild hunt, his horns are gradually shrinking. The specimens with the largest horns are the favorite victims of hunters. Unfortunately, these are specimens at the height of sexual maturity that in this way do not have the time to reproduce and thus transmit their genes. Only the younger ones that have the smallest horns reproduce.

The horns are not only the prerogative of males. Most female bovids have horns and use them for the same purposes as males: defend themselves from predators and attack rivals. In Val d'Aosta, indeed, there are very strong cows, called reine, which fight brutally to conquer the male.

Even the sheep of the rocky mountains are true warriors and often engage in battles with horns. The European sheep - it is thought - would have lost their horns after domestication.

These cows, photographed by one of our readers in a moment of relaxation, seem much more peaceful and peaceful, while sunbathing on a Brazilian island.

His trade is forbidden everywhere, but on the black market is worth more than gold. It is the horn of the rhinoceros, very precious for oriental medicine and highly sought after by collectors. For this reason it is the victim of a ruthless hunting: in the world there are five different species of rhinoceros (two in Africa and three in Asia) and a few thousand specimens. The Indian rhinoceros has only one nasal horn, while the African species (in the photo, the Diceros bicornis) have two (exceptionally three).

The white rhino can weigh more than two tons and the fight for the conquest of the female is very fierce. The reproductive cycle is very slow: the female has a gestation of almost 18 months and gives birth to a single puppy that cures for about two years.

The "desert devil" (Moloch horridus) is a lizard that has adapted to live in the driest parts of Australia. Despite its frightening appearance, it is a harmless animal (dangerous only for the ants it is fond of) and its conformation is particularly suited to the rough terrain on which it lives.

He simply drinks on the wet ground and passes the water through the cracks between the scales. The horns on his head then serve to channel water from the body to the mouth. The horns and thorns that it has scattered around the body are used to defend against predators.

Facing upwards and curving backwards, the horn of this insect closely resembles that of a rhinoceros and is therefore called a rhinoceros beetle (Oryctes nasicornis).

These small horned insects are very strong and not unlike sturdy mammals, which use horns to attack rivals, can trigger furious battles for a female. After mating the females lay their eggs in rotting tree trunks or on bundles of rotten canes.

The chameleon that lives in Africa, especially in Kenya and Tanzania, and leads a very secluded and solitary life. They often even ignore the comrades who are on the same tree.

However he becomes very aggressive when it comes to defending the territory or his partner from a rival. When he is about to attack, Jackson's chameleon changes color and design. Then, with its three powerful horns, a ruthless battle begins which in most cases only ends when one of the two contenders is so weakened to death.

It has a particularly square shape so as to deserve the nickname of "box fish" (Lactoria cornuta) and two horns protruding right above the eyes. On the body it has several bony spines that serve to defend itself from enemies, but when it is frightened it also emits a powerful toxin (ostracitoxina) which makes it inedible for predators.

Among the aquatic animals with sharp "weapons" there is also a cetacean, the narwhal (Monodon monoceros) whose male has a tooth, very long and pronounced, which resembles a horn.

The horned viper (Ceraste cerastes), thanks to its color, hides well in the desert. Because of his deadly bite he is much feared by the Bedouins of the Sahara. The two small horns that protrude above the eyes serve to protect the eyeballs from the sand.

Being a cold-blooded animal the viper can remain hidden in ambush in the burning sand for hours without eating, blending perfectly with the landscape … If it were not for those two small protrusions that barely emerge from the sand.

In traditional Chinese medicine the horns are an important ingredient to make "medicines" to treat fever and some sexual dysfunctions. The rhino horn, in particular, is considered a powerful aphrodisiac . Reduced to powder and taken regularly it can also cure the most serious sexual disorders. These alleged therapeutic abilities are based on popular beliefs and have never found any scientific evidence. And despite being illegal in the East today, the rhino horn trade continues under the table in Taiwan, China, South Korea, Thailand. In the photo a Chinese woman prepares deer horns used in the production of some phantom remedies against aging.

They were 4.24 meters wide, from side to side. As one of the longest machines on the market, the Passat Station Wagon. They belonged to an Indian water buffalo (Bubalus arnee), lived fifty years ago and still hold the record of horn length. Those of these young buffalo (Syncerus caffer) that live in groups to better defend themselves from predators are smaller and deadly. Members of the same pack often fight each other in a harmless way to train in the real combat that they will support during the mating season.

The injurious term "cuckold", used to indicate someone who has been betrayed, could derive from the male of the sheep (also called beak), known for his ease in love, but it is not known exactly where he was born. In ancient times, on the contrary, the horn was a symbol of virility and courage for the strength of the animals that provided it. Linked to fighting and animal reproduction, it has been considered a positive symbol of abundance and fertility by all civilizations and is still used today by many as a talisman and lucky charm. The two horns on the forehead of Michelangelo's Moses in St. Peter's in Rome are actually rays of light that represent the spiritual power of the patriarch.

He had to make sure he didn't go unnoticed, so this deer (fam. Cervidae) hosted at the Royal Park in Richmond, London, adopted a new look to attract the attention of potential partners. After wandering around for a few days looking for a partner, the animal decided to play its last card. And, plunging his horns into a lake, he emerged with a "wig" of vegetation. The move seems to have worked: he was seen moving away with not one, but even two females. The appearance of the horns, in particular their size and symmetry, plays a dominant role in courtship among deer. Another way to signal one's presence to the fairer sex is to scratch the territory with the front legs, leaving scented signals and scratching the bark of the nearby trees. Males do it often, before engaging with rivals long struggles for conquering partners.

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We are obviously talking about horns. But what are those strange appendages that are on the head of some animals and what are they for? And why not everyone? For example, among the 4, 629 known species of mammals, only a few ungulates (10 families out of 91) have them. These include oxen, goats, buffalo (pictured), rhinos, deer and giraffes.
But there are also horned reptiles and some strange insects with strange appendages.
So are you ready to follow us to discover the horns?