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Mimesis Evolution of Camouflage-Structures

Mimesis, or passive camouflage, is a survival strategy that utilizes mimicry. Copying the behavior or pattern of another species

Imitation to avoid predators:[]

In the case of the mantid species in the video, the animal's appearance and behavior mimics that of a dried up leaf.  Predators simply don't notice it sitting there.  In the second video, two Ghost Pipefish (Solenostomus cyanopterus) avoid predators by mimicing a piece of sea grass floating near the ocean floor.


Two Seagrass ghost pipe fish close up, Underwater Video Footage 0295

Three types of Mimicry:[]

1. Defense mimicry- As in the examples listed above illustrate, one species may look like another species as a way to avoid predators and increase the likelihood that they survive to mate and pass on their genetic material.

  • Mullerian Mimics: different species which are both toxic look similar. This is beneficial to them because predators have fewer characteristics to learn to avoid, and thus will be better at avoiding them. 
  • Batesian Mimics: Look or behave similarly to a species which is toxic. This is beneficial to a non-toxic species because they will be avoided simply because the predator learned to avoid a similar looking toxic species. (Drickamer, Vessey, Jakob, 2002).

2. Aggressive mimicry- In this form of mimicry, a predatory species may take on characteristics generally associated with a non-treatening species to avoid being detected by their prey.  The bright, colorful leaves of the Venus Fly Trap may be one example of this (Joel, 1988).

170px-VFT ne1

Image obtained from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aggressive_mimicry

3. Sexual mimicry- Involves one gender imitating the other of the same species. An example of this is seen in the female Spotted Hyena.  The females of this species have genetalia that resembles the male.  It is theorized that having this anatomy may protect females from agressive outbursts from other female hyenas (Muller & Wrangham, 2002; http://www.livescience.com/699-painful-realities-hyena-sex.html).


Drickamer, L., Vessey, S., Jakob, E. (2002). Animal Behavior (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill. 

Joel, D. M. (1988). Mimicry and mutualism in carnivorous pitcher plants (Sarraceniaceae, Nepenthaceae, Cephalotaceae, Bromeliaceae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 35(2), 185-197.

Muller, M. N., & Wrangham, R. (2002). Sexual mimicry in hyenas. The Quarterly review of biology, 77(1), 3-16.