Insect leaf: mimicry to escape predators

What is it - biological definition

Mimicry is the physical or behavioral resemblance, usually adopted by one species that mimics another, with the intention of protecting itself from its predators. The most imitated animals and plants are those whose harmful characteristics leave a lasting impression on predators. Rather than hiding from predators through camouflage, mimicking species exhibit the same warning signs or behaviors as the dangerous species they mimic.

Information and summary of key features

Mimicry was discovered in 1862 by British naturalist Henry Walter Bates, who discovered two distinct species of moth families in the Brazilian jungles. Both, even though they had no connection, had similar marks. He then observed that one of the moth families was poisonous to birds, so he deduced that edible moths had survived by developing warning marks similar to those of poisonous moths. Such a concept, Bates's mimicry, was used in the demonstration of Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection. According to this theory, birds played the role of natural selection agents by eliminating edible moths that were less like poisonous moths.

Another class of mimicry, called Muller mimicry, is found primarily in certain insect species. These insects, while equally poisonous, have developed similar markings to reduce mortality.

Examples of mimicry

Examples of mimicry are found among many different plants and animals, such as orchids, insects, birds, lizards, sharks, and poisonous beetles.

Flower fly: insect with the ability to mimic.


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