TIME

The long, sharp beaks of hummingbirds serve a purpose other than probing flowers for nectar, a new study found.

Male long-billed hermits, which are large hummingbirds native to Central and South America, use their beaks to stab each other in the throat in territorial disputes, according to a study published recently in Behavioral Ecology. The male-against-male battles are part of a type of mating ritual called ‘lekking,’ which occurs in order to have space to mate with females.

“Once a female is in a territory, the male will court her with elaborate displays and songs. So in these species the males are constantly fighting to maintain the best territories,” Alejandro Rico-Guevara, the report’s co-author, said in a press release. “We show here the first evidence that bills are also being shaped by sexual selection through male-male combat.”

The findings suggest an alternative to the accepted theory…

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