The Norman Transcript

Local news

November 14, 2013

Emlen makes animal, human parallels

NORMAN — From flies to crabs, beetles and elk, every animal has a weapon of sorts. Usually, these weapons are in proportion to the overall size of the animal and provide a balance such that animals may effectively hunt, kill and feed on prey.

However, in some cases, animals are fitted with extreme weapons breaking away from balance. Biologist Doug Emlen, of the University of Montana, discussed his book “Extravagant Weapons” Thursday night and what triggers the evolution of extreme weapons in animals and how this parallels the evolution of human weapons technology.

A part of the University of Oklahoma Sutton Lecture Series, Emlen revealed what three critical prerequisites must be in place for extreme weapons to evolve and an arms race to ensue.

“Most weapons — claws, teeth and talons — stay small because of balance. Big weapons may be critical to killing but may hinder catching prey or eating. Balance allows hunters to do both,” Emlen said. “There are two basic ways balance breaks down: 1) counteracting selection disappears ... and 2) competition over reproduction.”

He said when a predator ambushes his prey, the cost of a big weapon is minimal. Because a female’s turnaround for reproducing takes much longer than a male’s, fewer females are available for mating, resulting in intense competition.

Yet, some species, including birds, effectuate this competition by singing the loudest songs, flashing the brightest colors and having the biggest plumage. Three prerequisites must be in place to push forward the development of extreme weapons in an animal arms race, Elmen said.

Not only must there be intense competition and a limiting/defensible resource, but contests over limited resources must occur in the form of duels and not mere scrambles.

“Scrambles require agility. Extreme weapons are not cost effective as opposed to duels, which are predictable and favor strength, skill and weaponry,” Emlen said.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local news
  • N7 Sooners come together to serve Native American youth

    Whitney Wofford has faced some tough competition as a part of the Oklahoma tennis team. However, on Wednesday, Wofford may have taken on her biggest and most rewarding competition yet at the Sooners For N7 event at the Oklahoma football ...

    April 10, 2014 3 Photos

  • Transportation officials find more cracks in Lexington-Purcell bridge, but repairs on track

    State transportation officials announced Tuesday that additional repairs are needed in at least 96 places on the Lexington-Purcell bridge before it can be opened....

    April 23, 2014

  • Stacy Ford named 2014 Norman schools Teacher of the Year during banquet

    Stacy Ford, Kennedy Elementary librarian, was named 2014 Norman Public Schools Teacher of the Year at the district’s annual Celebration of Excellence banquet Tuesday evening at the National Center for Employee Development....

    April 23, 2014

  • Council OKs $48.8M contract for wastewater plant upgrades

    The Norman City Council awarded a $48.8 million project for wastewater treatment plant upgrades Tuesday. The council accepted a $50.3 million low-interest loan from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund....

    April 23, 2014

  • Water carry 5 Water Walk opens discussion about difficulties in obtaining safe H2O

    With large white plastic buckets upon their heads, two gallons of water sloshed to the brim and over the side, but the students trudged on down the South Oval. The farthest feat was to the Seed Sower, and as the sun glared down, heat ...

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Blood drive planned Thursday

    Moore Norman Technology Center, 4701 12th Ave. NW in Norman, will host an Oklahoma Blood Institute public blood drive from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday inside room A109 in the main building of MNTC’s Franklin Road campus.  The OBI is in ...

    April 23, 2014

  • Local student to attend arts camp

    Kate Kemmet, 15, of Norman, has been accepted and will attend Interlochen Arts Camp. Kemmet, the daughter of Rob and Lori Kemmet, will study musical theater at the Camp....

    April 23, 2014

  • Coalition seeks more jobs

    A coalition of groups that encourage employment of residents who have disabilities hopes to double the number of placed workers by next fall....

    April 23, 2014

  • Ex-judge cleared to run in McAlester

    OKLAHOMA CITY — A McAlester judicial candidate is cleared to run for office despite stepping down as a special judge in 2011 amid misconduct allegations, the State Election Board unanimously ruled Monday....

    April 23, 2014

  • Contemporary Dance Oklahoma to perform at OU

    The University of Oklahoma University Theatre and School of Dance will present Contemporary Dance Oklahoma, a mixed program of new choreography, works from the CDO repertory and guest choreographer Jessica Lang’s “A Solo in Nine Parts.” ...

    April 23, 2014