Science Connections Lecture: Extravagant Weapons
The Story Behind Arms Races in Animals and Men
Douglas J. Emlen, Professor of Biology, The University of Montana
All ages welcome
This talk develops the idea that arms races driving the evolution of huge weapons in animals parallel the races we see in our own military past. Similar circumstances start each race, and, once started, both types of race proceed through the same sequence of stages. To an astonishing degree, crabs, beetles, and stags shed light on our weapon extremes.
About Our Speaker
Douglas Emlen is an evolutionary biologist and Professor of Biology at the University of Montana. His research provides insights into the development and evolution of exaggerated male weaponry, such as the horns found in scarab beetles. He combines approaches from behavioral ecology, genetics, phylogenetics, and developmental biology to understand how evolution has shaped these bizarre structures. Current projects include an examination of how altered expression of appendage patterning genes contributes to species differences in the shape of horns, and how the insulin receptor (InR) pathway modulates the size of male weapons in response to the larval nutritional environment. He also communicates the excitement of evolutionary biology to the popular press, such as National Public Radio and the New York Times, contributing to public understanding of animal diversity and morphological evolution.