The effect of behaviour and body weight on the mechanical design of horns



A review of the behaviour of bovids and cervids when fighting suggests that it is only the dimensions of the base of horns and antlers which are important mechanically in their design. A fourth power function of the diameter of the base of a horn (the second moment of area (I)) increases linearly with body weight so that there is the same maximum stress in the horn during fighting. This is consistent with the efficient use of materials and is found to be the case for different types of fighting. Sheep and goats fight most forcefully and have a higher ratio of I to body weight than antelopes and deer, which tend to use less forceful wrestling.