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The male Japanese rhinoceros beetle, Trypoxylus dichotomus, which lives on Japan's main island, has big horns that are used as weapons to fight other males for females. Scientists have sought the developmental mechanism that creates these horns, and to this end, a research team at the National Institute for Basic Biology in Japan has identified sex-determining genes for the rhinoceros beetle, and has succeeded in identifying the timing of sex differences that appear in horn primordia.
A member of the research team, Dr. Shinichi Morita, said, "Unlike the model animal Drosophila, we did not have any basic information concerning these beetles, such as their developmental stages. Furthermore, because the larvae and pupae live in the soil, it was particularly difficult to observe their development." Therefore, Dr. Morita developed a rearing method encompassing the beetle's late larval stage up until adulthood that used plastic tubes, but didn't require any soil. Dr. Morita then video recorded a few weeks of the process of beetle larvae becoming pupae, and looked for signs that the prepupal stage had started.
Behavior - Sign - Beginning - Stage - Dr
"We found that head-rocking behavior was a sign of the beginning of the prepupal stage," Dr. Morita said. Using this as a reference point, the research group was able to create a stage table of horn formation along a time axis. As a result...
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