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Insulin may be Big Antler hormone

Extra sensitivity to hormone in certain developing tissues might give animals oversized body parts

OTTAWA — Some of the animal kingdom’s showiest extremes, from deer antlers to the outsized horn of the male rhinoceros beetle, may be natural insulin meters.

As an animal grows, the nubbins of tissue that will form its big weapons or displays may be more sensitive to insulin than other developing body parts, Douglas Emlen of the University Montana said July 10 at the Evolution Ottawa scientific congress.

The proposal “potentially narrows the range of explanations for the evolution of ornaments and weapons,” said Bob Montgomerie of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, who studies courtship-related features in birds.

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