Pascale Jacques December 4, 2019 Animal
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.
Protective resemblance is used by prey to avoid predation. It includes special protective resemblance, now called mimesis, where the whole animal looks like some other object, for example when a caterpillar resembles a twig or a bird dropping. In general protective resemblance, now called crypsis, the animal’s texture blends with the background, for example when a moth’s color and pattern blend in with tree bark.
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
Some animals such as many moths, mantises and grasshoppers, have a repertory of threatening or startling behaviour, such as suddenly displaying conspicuous eyespots or patches of bright and contrasting colors, so as to scare off or momentarily distract a predator. This gives the prey animal an opportunity to escape. The behaviour is deimatic (startling) rather than aposematic as these insects are palatable to predators, so the warning colors are a bluff, not an honest signal.
Some animals are colored purely incidentally because their blood contains pigments. For example, amphibians like the olm that live in caves may be largely colorless as color has no function in that environment, but they show some red because of the haem pigment in their red blood cells, needed to carry oxygen. They also have a little orange colored riboflavin in their skin. Human albinos and people with fair skin have a similar color for the same reason.
Fruits are the means by which angiosperms disseminate seeds. Edible fruits, in particular, have propagated with the movements of humans and animals in a symbiotic relationship as a means for seed dispersal and nutrition; in fact, humans and many animals have become dependent on fruits as a source of food. Accordingly, fruits account for a substantial fraction of the world’s agricultural output, and some (such as the apple and the pomegranate) have acquired extensive cultural and symbolic meanings.
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