Jaw morphology and fighting forces in stag beetles
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Faculty of Sciences. Physics
The journal of experimental biology. - London
, p. 2955-2961
University of Antwerp
The jaws of different species of stag beetles show a large variety of shapes and sizes. The male jaws are used as weapons in fights, and they may exert a very forceful bite in some species. We investigated in 16 species whether and how the forcefulness of their bite is reflected in their jaw morphology. We found a large range of maximal muscle forces (1.833 N; factor of 18). Species investing in large bite muscles also have disproportionately large jaw volumes. They use this additional jaw volume to elongate their jaws, increasing their chances of winning in battles. The fact that this also decreases the mechanical advantage is largely compensated for by elongated in-levers. As a result, high muscle forces are correlated with elevated bite forces (0.277.6 N; factor of 28). Despite the large difference in the forcefulness of their bite, all investigated species experience similar Von Mises stresses in their jaws while biting (29114 MPa; factor of 4.0; calculated with finite element simulations). Hence, stag beetles have successfully adapted their jaw anatomy according to their bite force in fights.