Mimicry                                                        Animalis imitationis


The mimicry of physical appearance is a very specific type of defense against predators, and there are two main types: Batesian mimicry and Müllerian mimicry. Batesian mimicry is named after the naturalist H.E. Bates. He studied tropical butterflies and noticed a common peculiarity. There were many butterflies which were toxic to birds and other animals, and they had evolved flashy warning colorations which the would-be predators learned to avoid. There were also other species of butterflies which were non-toxic, yet had developed a nearly identical wing pattern to avoid predation. This is not limited to just butterflies. The Scarlet King Snake has adapted a similar warning coloration to the venomous Eastern Coral Snake. Though we may easily distinguish these two species (red by black venom lack, red by yellow kill a fellow), the vibrant coloration would take predators by surprise. Müllerian mimicry is a similar concept, but the concept behind this process is that poisonous species will begin to adapt the same warning colorations.  Many insects (wasps, bees, and caterpillars) share similar black and yellow striped pattern to indicate they are inedible. Once a predator learns to avoid one species, it will also avoid the others. Since both these types of mimicry help protect them from predation, they are reinforced strongly by natural selection.


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