Is this an ant or a spider?
Why do animals mimic other animals? They disguise themselves so they won't be eaten. But some animals have disguises that aren't so deceptive. Why doesn't natural selection create more perfect disguises for these guys?
One scientist, Stano Pekár, who studies spiders, has a possible explanation. He thinks that the mimicking animals might be trying to avoid multiple predators.
Some spiders imitate ants because ants are avoided by many predators. But other predators like to eat ants, so spiders who are too good at pretending to be ants will get eaten as ants. So if there are multiple ant predators in an environment, a spider might develop a sloppy disguise. That way, at certain times it can blend in with the ants, and other times it can be a spider.
An animal might be developing a disguise depending on the mix of predators in its environment.
This might be true for other animals, too. Such as humans.
The photo is of a mimic ant from the jumping spider family, Salticidae.
- A Cheap Imitation Is Sometimes Best, Science>>
- Abstract only - Is the Evolution of Inaccurate Mimicry a Result of Selection by a Suite of Predators? A Case Study Using Myrmecomorphic Spiders, The American Naturalist, JStor>>
- Ant mimicry, Wikipedia>>