Working versus idle weaponry in the wild



Acinonyx jubatus photo © Rob Kirby


Alcelaphus cokii photo © Dger


The distinction between working and idle weaponry is illustrated by this cheetah attacking a female hartebeest. The cheetah possesses remarkably small weapons, particularly its only pair of sharp claws, which are put to work every time it arrests prey. By contrast, the relatively large weapons (particularly the sharp horns, but also the hooves) of the female hartebeest are idle because she seldom uses them to defend herself or her offspring, or even to fight or play within her species.


Robin and the Honey Badger, 22 March 2016



Acinonyx jubatus attacking female Alcelaphus cokii

Acinonyx jubatus sharp claw

Alcelaphus cokii sharp horns