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Question about Warning Coloration

  1. Mar 12, 2014 #1
    So, you know how we're taught what to look for on an organism to know to keep away from it? (Ex: The hourglass on a black widow, or the rattle on a rattlesnake.) Well, since animals in the wild can't be taught by other animals the way we can teach, how has it been imprinted in their minds too to recognize and keep away from signals like that? One can't just make the mistake once, and then learn from it, because after it makes it's first mess up once, it's dead. So how do they know?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 12, 2014 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    Welcome to PF;
    species evolve together over a long time - animals with an aversion to bright colored bands, say, will have more offspring than those with a tendency to try to eat the thing with bright colored bands.
    Toxic creatures with bright colors are less likely to get eaten.

    Not all creatures with warning colors are toxic.
    Not all toxic creatures are toxic enough to kill everything that tries to eat them.
    Most striking identity marking on creatures are not there to warn us, or other animals, about danger ... there are many evolutionary pressures that lead to characteristic marking.
    Real life is messy.
  4. Mar 12, 2014 #3


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    The viceroy butterfly is a textbook example of mimicry. It closely resembles the Monarch butterfly, which is generally toxic. Most predators prefer to avoid critters likely to result in a belly ache. No sense in yacking up an entire feeding session for one lousy butterfly.
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