Chantell Tanguy November 20, 2019 Animal
Warning coloration can succeed either through inborn behaviour (instinct) on the part of potential predators, or through a learned avoidance. Either can lead to various forms of mimicry. Experiments show that avoidance is learned in birds, mammals, lizards, and amphibians, but that some birds such as great tits have inborn avoidance of certain colors and patterns such as black and yellow stripes.
Hugh Bamford Cott’s 500-page book Adaptive Coloration in Animals, published in wartime 1940, systematically described the principles of camouflage and mimicry. The book contains hundreds of examples, over a hundred photographs and Cott’s own accurate and artistic drawings, and 27 pages of references. Cott focussed especially on ”maximum disruptive contrast”, the kind of patterning used in military camouflage such as disruptive pattern material. Indeed, Cott describes such applications
Henry Walter Bates’s 1863 book The Naturalist on the River Amazons describes his extensive studies of the insects in the Amazon basin, and especially the butterflies. He discovered that apparently similar butterflies often belonged to different families, with a harmless species mimicking a poisonous or bitter-tasting species to reduce its chance of being attacked by a predator, in the process now called after him, Bayesian mimicry.
Pigments are colored chemicals (such as melanin) in animal tissues.
For example, the Arctic fox has a white coat in winter (containing little pigment), and a brown coat in summer (containing more pigment), an example of seasonal camouflage.
wholly new at the time. It strongly supported Darwin’s theory of sexual selection, arguing that the obvious differences between male and female birds such as the Argus pheasant were selected by the females, pointing out that bright male plumage was found only in species ”which court by day”.The book introduced the concept of frequency-dependent selection, as when edible mimics are less frequent than the distasteful models whose colors and patterns they copy. In the book, Poulton also coined the term aposematism for warning coloration, which he identified in widely differing animal groups including mammals (such as the skunk), bees and wasps, beetles, and butterflies.
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