This Beetle Puts the ‘Extreme’ in Extremity

The horn of a Japanese rhinoceros beetle (Trypoxylus dichotomus) can grow to be two-thirds the length of the rest of its body. And size matters. The male beetles use their horns to battle over feeding sites, where they also get access to female beetles. The longer the horn, the more reproductive success. So what limits horn-size? And why do some beetles have big horns and others puny ones? Biologists Doug Emlen and Erin McCullough of The University of Montana are looking into it.


music by Martin Crane, images, video: Erin McCullough, Doug Emlen/ The University of Montana additional images: flickr/ucumari, aussiegall, elephant arno & louise wildlife, the bomb circle

Meet the Producer

About Flora Lichtman

Flora Lichtman was the host of the podcast Every Little Thing. She’s a former Science Friday multimedia producer.