London, March 3 (ANI): In a new research, scientists found out that female beetles resort to horned aggression against each other in the battle for securing dung.
According to a report in New Scientist, the research was carried out by Nicola Watson and Leigh Simmons of the University of Western Australia, Perth.
They pitted female dung beetles against each other in a race for dung - a valuable resource that provides nutrients for their eggs.
Matched for body size, females with bigger horns managed to collect more dung and so provide better for their offspring.
To give their young a start in life, female dung beetles - which have much larger horns than males - make balls of dung, called brood balls, from cowpats and bury them underground.
They then lay an egg into each ball; each ball provides nutrition for the developing larva, and the more dung there is in the ball, the larger and more fertile the offspring will grow to become.
"Larger-horned females managed to get greater access to the dung and reproduce more brood balls and in turn more offspring," said Watson.
The life of a female dung beetle is highly competitive.
"Dung loses its usability quickly, so they have to seize it fast," said Watson.
Female beetles have been found to steal dung, raid other brood balls, and replace existing eggs with their own.
"It is against this backdrop of intense female-female rivalry that the horns have evolved," said Watson.
According to Patricia Backwell of the Australian National University in Canberra, although there are many cases of female weaponry - in lizards, crabs and some dinosaurs, for instance - in most cases it is used in defence against predators.
"In the beetles, however, weaponry has evolved under female competition, which is rare," she said. (ANI)