Y: Today’s moment of science is all about animal headgear.
D: That’s right, we’re talking about horns and antlers.
Y: And how to tell them apart!
D: Horns and antlers have some important things in common. They both grow from an animal’s forehead and are used to assert dominance, provide defense, and attract mates.
Y: It can be easy to mix them up. But today we’re going to give you some simple ways to tell which is which.
D: Here we go!
Y: First of all, look is important. Horns look like daggers, sometimes twisted into exotic shapes.
D: Antlers look like branches with multiple points.
Y: Second, different types of animals sport different types of headgear. Horns belong to the bovids, animals such as sheep, goats, cows, and bison.
D: Antlers belong to the serbids, that includes all deer, elk, moose, and caribou or reindeer.
Y: Three, horns are made of keratin, just like your fingernails, which means they grow throughout an animal’s whole life and never fall off.
D: Antlers, on the other hand, are made of bone. They fall off every year in winter or early spring and a whole new set grows in time for mating season in the fall.
Y: Which brings us to our last big difference: horns, you see, usually grow on both the male and female members of a species.
D: While antlers belong almost exclusively to the boys. Female caribou are the only exception, and their antlers are pretty small.
Y: So there you have it, horns versus antlers. Just remember: daggers,
D: Versus branches.
D: Versus serbids.
D: Versus bone.
Y: Both sexes,
D: Versus just the guys.
Y: You’ll never mix them up again.
D: This moment of science comes from Indiana University.
Y: There are hundreds more moments of science at our website at amomentofscience.org, where you can also view videos and sign up for podcasts. I’m Yaël Ksander.
D: And I’m Don Glass.