The largest antlers of any known deer species belonged to the extinct giant deer Megaloceros giganteus. It has been argued that their antlers were too large for use in fighting, instead being used only in ritualized displays to attract mates. Here, we used finite-element analysis to test whether the antlers of M. giganteus could have withstood forces generated during fighting. We com- parcd the mechanical performance of antler, in M. giganteus with three extant deer species: red deer (Cervus elaphus), fallow deer (Dania dam) and elk (Aices alces). Von Mises stress results suggest that M. giganteus was capable of withstanding some fighting loads, provided that their antlers interlocked proximally, and that their antlers were best adapted for withstanding loads from twisting rather than pushing actions, as are other deer with palmate antlers. We conclude that fighting in M. giganteus was probably more constrained and predictable than in extant deer.
Head to head: the case for fighting behaviour in Megaloceros giganteus using finite-element analysis / Klinkhamer, Aj; Woodley, N; Neenan, Jm; Parr, Wch; Clausen, P; Sanchez-Villagra, Mr; Sansalone, G; Lister, Am; Wroe, S. - In: PROCEEDINGS - ROYAL SOCIETY. BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES. - ISSN 0962-8452. - 286:1912(2019). [10.1098/rspb.2019.1873]