Category Archives: mimicry

A stupendous example of camouflage

How powerful is natural selection in causing animals to hide in their environments? How close can it get them to the “optimum”—complete resemblance to something inedible? Have a look at this Phalera bucephala! And be sure to look at each picture separately: just go the original tw**t, click on the left picture, and follow the […]

Complex interactions between caterpillars, ants, and butterflies

I don’t know the species of either the butterfly or the ant in this video taken in Peru, but the interactions are complex. One level is probable mutualism between the ants and the caterpillars. Although the authors don’t mention this for these species, there are a lot of caterpillar species that are guarded and protected […]

Larval fish mimic unpleasant, unpalatable, or nutritionally worthless invertebrate zooplankton

Mimicry is rife not just among animals, but among plants. But one group that’s been neglected in such studies is the juvenile stages of marine organisms. (This isn’t the case for juveniles of terrestrial animals, as seen by the numerous studies of caterpillar mimicry.) This has begun to be remedied by a brand new study by […]

The crab is spotted

by Greg Mayer I think most readers probably spotted the crab (which happens to be spotted) rather quickly, in part because it was in the dead center of the photo, which is how I deliberately composed the shot. More than a challenge to readers’ spotting ability, I wanted to illustrate the delightfully exact camouflage that […]

Readers’ wildlife photographs

Everyone loves mimicry (well, don’t you?), so we can all appreciate the photos sent by Tony Eales from Australia (his captions indented). Mimicry is not only an outstanding example of how well natural selection can mold the shape (and behavior and pheromones) of unrelated species, but also served as some of the first evidence for […]

Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader Mark Sturtevant kindly sent me a batch of photos the other day, allowing him to jump the queue (such as it it) since I’m traveling. His photos deal with a subject dear to my heart: mimicry. Many insects will mimic a venomous or otherwise unpleasant animal model, and thereby gain a degree of protection […]

Potoo mimics leaf blowing in the wind

Potoos are some of the most cryptic birds around. This video, which isn’t on YouTube, was made by Ciro Albano and shared by Novataxa (link provided by Florian M.). Click on the screenshot below to see a short but stunning video of a Rufous Potoo (Nyctibius bracteatus) rocking on its perch, apparently mimicking a twig or leaf […]

A new and bizarre form of mimicry: plant seeds mimic shape and smell of animal feces to facilitate dispersal by dung beetles

Mimicry is a recurring subject on this site, mainly because I’m fascinated by the precision with which natural selection can mold animals and plants to look like things they’re not. We’ve also seen examples of plants mimicking animals before, as in the orchids that mimic bees and wasps, fooling randy insect males into trying to copulate […]

Readers’ wildlife photographs

First, we have three birds, part of a large series (more soon) by reader Damon Williford: Three members of the cuckoo family breed here [South Texas], including the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Greater Roadrunner, and Groove-billed Ani, which gets my vote for the goofiest looking bird in the world (but possibly tied with the Hoatzin for that […]

The wonderful world of ant mimics: photos by Alex Wild

Should I have called this post: “You won’t believe these animals that look like ants!”? I won’t reiterate the many reasons why I love mimics, and why every evolutionary biologist (or even admirer of nature) should, too. Just go over to photographer/entomologist Alex Wild‘s lovely “ant mimic” page to see the diversity of taxa that have evolved to […]


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