Genetics and Evolution

What is Batesian mimicry?

In 1861 Henry Walter Bates (1825–1892), a British naturalist, proposed that a nontoxic species can evolve (especially in color and color pattern) to look or act like a toxic or unpalatable species in order to avoid being eaten by a predator. The classic example is the viceroy butterfly, which resembles the unpalatable monarch butterfly. In another example, the larva of the hawk moth puffs up its head and thorax when disturbed, looking like the head of a small poisonous snake, complete with eyes. The mimicry even involves behavior; the larva weaves its head back and forth and hisses like a snake. This is called Batesian mimicry.


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