For a whale of a good time, size does matter!
Scientists have discovered that male narwhals use their horns as “sexual weapons” to lure ladies — with frisky females preferring to hookup with large-tusked mates, according to research published Wednesday.
“The information that the tusk communicates is simple: ‘I am bigger than you,’” lead researcher Zackary Graham said in a press release.
The blubbery beaus flash their massive chompers to fight off other males, and ultimately impress potential mates, according to Graham and other Arizona State University researchers.
Scientists came to the, well, horny conclusion after they compared 35 years of tusk size data to the body size of 245 adult male narwhals.
They found that, when it comes to mating frequently, big horns are “one of the most charismatic structures in biology,” according to the study.
“The narwhal tusk is a sexually selected signal that is used during male-male tusking contests,” Graham said. “Broadly, I’m interested in sexual selection, which is responsible for creating some of the craziest traits in biology,” he said.
He added, “One way we try to understand these traits is by looking at the morphology, or the size and shape of them.”
The research also showed that so-called “tusking” — in which two narwhals rub their horns together — is linked to frequent sexual activity.
During the study, researchers also found the animals can sport tusks up to 8 feet long.
Graham now hopes that future researchers will use aerial and aquatic drones to study the phenomenon.
Overall, the study shows male narwhals use the horns as a sexually charged tool.
“Overall, our evidence supports the hypothesis that the tusk functions as a sexually selected weapon…during male-male contests,” Graham said.
In the past, studies have shown that the sea creatures spend most of their lives hidden under the Arctic ice, leading researchers to believe that their tusks were used only for hunting and fighting.