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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Faking For Survival: How The Master Mimics Have Adapted To Protect Themselves

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Species resort to unusual ways to survive in the wild, and it can get real bizarre at times. Animals who do not have the advantage of speed, skill, or camouflage resort to uncanny ways to make it out of a difficult situation. And the master mimics dwelling in the natural world have survived solely with the help of these tricks.

Even before humans learned the trickery of faking and disguise, denizens of the animal world have been using it to survive in a hostile world. These master mimics have come up with ingenious ways to lure their prey or escape from their predators. Animals, insects, and birds have come up with certain oddities in behavior, sounds, and looks that have helped them.

The Intriguing Tree Ocelot

One of the most intriguing animals is the ocelots. The master mimics of the feline world live in the rainforests of Central and South America and are often confused with the leopards and jaguars, but they are smaller, about twice the size of the domestic cat. But they a unique ability. They have adapted vocal cords that help them express a wide range of vibrations and sounds.

master mimics

The tree ocelots, also known as margay, can imitate the sound of a young monkey. A joint team of researchers from the University of Amazonas and the Wildlife Conservation Society has observed the tree ocelot mimicking the call of the young of the pied tamarin to lure the adult monkeys inside the striking range.  

In the above instance, its ruse was discovered by the monkeys who warned away other monkeys nearby.

Viceroy Butterfly: The Master Mimics Of The Insect World

master mimics

Some creatures are master mimics at appearing disgusting to their predators. the Viceroy butterfly models its black and orange colors after the Monarch butterfly. The latter’s disgusting taste and toxicity make predators avoid it and the viceroy butterfly gets away.

The Viceroy butterfly is also unpalatable to predators, but its resemblance to a more toxic creature keeps off predators in a phenomenon called the Mullerian mimicry, where two species of toxic organisms resemble one another’s warning signs for their protection.

The Shapeshifting Mimic Octopus

These master mimics of the seas have earned their name, the mimic octopus. Found in the shallow waters of the Indo-Pacific, this discovery cephalopod can rapidly take on the behavior and appearance of foul-tasting or venomous creaturs to escape from potential predators.

Also read: Caring Diver Helps Confused Baby Octopus In Plastic Cup, With A Shell

These mister mimics can imitate shrimps, sea snakes, jellyfish, lionfish, crabs, and many more. In open seas, it takes on the white and brown patterns of the toxic lionfish. To escape from the damsel fish, the master mimics cephalopod conceals 6 of its arms and sticks out the remaining 2 to look like the poisonous banded sea-snake.

The Elaborate Imitative Vocal Display Of The Superb Lyrebird

These avian master mimics use complex acoustic illusions to trick females into mating. The bird’s masterful mimicry can imitate the sound of an entire multispecies during courtship and mating.

master mimics

The females are deceived into believing that there is a lurking predator, thus preventing them from breaking off courtship before copulation. They also increase the illusion through the imitation of the sound of wingbeats.  

They can also imitate the sounds and calls of over 20 different species.

The Prehistoric Looking Alligator Snapping Turtle

This dinosaur of the turtle world is the second-largest freshwater turtle in North America and among the largest on earth. Its beak-like jaws, spiked alligator-like shell, and thick, scaly shells have given it the appearance of a creature from an ancient era.

Snapping Turtle

Also read: Plans For Development Could Endanger Sea Turtles In The Andaman Islands In India

They have an interesting technique to catch their prey, lying on the riverbed with their mouths open. An appendage above their mouth resembling a worm lures them, and they get snapped by the turtle.

The Puff Adder From South Africa

This is another creature that employs the tactics of the snapping turtle. But it is a snake and lives on land. The puff adder even uses an appendage to lure prey as it resembles an invertebrate, but instead of the tongue, it is the tail.

master mimics

These master mimics among snakes use this method when they detect frogs. This indicates that they can differentiate between different types of prey.

The Spicebush Swallowtail: The Master Mimics Among Caterpillars

The spicebush swallowtail caterpillar is a master of disguise and has a bag of tricks in its kitty. It employs some of the most resourceful devices of mimicry and camouflage.

master mimics

As it is a vulnerable creature, nature has designed the caterpillar to perfection. Its ability to transform into weird and unusual variation during different stages of its development from the larvae to the butterfly makes this amazing creature the master of camouflage and mimicry.

Also read: Butterfly Extinction A Reality For 450 Species: Rapid Decline In Western US

In its early stages, it can resemble bird droppings, and in its later stages, it fools the birds into mistaking it for a snake with its black and yellow rings that look like large eyes. They can also inflate a part of there to make it look like the tongue of a snake.

Photuris Firefly: The Femme Fatale Of The Insect World

master mimics

The female photuris firefly uses its master mimic techniques to lure in the gullible male and make a short meal out of it. The former’s characteristic flashes bring in the male but not for courtship. They are being lured for a more sinister motive, eating them. The male contains certain chemicals, called lucibufagins, that help the female repel predators, such as spiders.

The Fangblenny: Opioid Venom And Terrifying Fangs

These are other master mimics of the marine world. The fangblenny can change into multiple disguises and is a specialized mimic of the juvenile Bluestreak cleaner wrasse, which serves as cleaners to host fish.

master mimics

These finger-sized, colorful, and cute-looking species of fish have a venomous bite, but mimicking other fish is their greatest protection. They change their colors and patterns to camouflage themselves among shoals of fish and attack passing fish.

Therefore, the next time you hear the call of a monkey, be careful, for it might be a cat. Or what looks like bird droppings could turn out to be a living caterpillar in disguise. In the end, life finds a way and these strange evolutionary quirks are a testament to that.




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