Aren’t they cute? A dozen false eyes and faces of pupa… they’re not even fully grown caterpillars yet.
(Click to greatly embiggen)
Costa Rican caterpillars are smart. They’ve evolved to mimic the eyes and faces of their predator’s predators: snakes. When birds looking for a caterpillar to eat see these snake eyes or faces, the birds instinctively flee.
Better yet, all these different types of caterpillars haven’t evolved similar-looking disguises, because then the birds would eventually recognize the disguises and realize that the caterpillars were disguising themselves. Instead, the caterpillars have all evolved a huge number of disguises.
Now that they’re grown up, these fake eyes and faces of adult caterpillars look even more like snakes.(Click to greatly embiggen)
A tropical horde of counterfeit predator eyes by Daniel H. Janzena, Winnie Hallwachsa, and John M. Burns, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Link to free PDF of paper>>