Masquerade: Camouflage Without Crypsis

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Science  01 Jan 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5961, pp. 51
DOI: 10.1126/science.1181931

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Masquerade describes the resemblance of an organism to an inedible object and is hypothesized to facilitate misidentification of that organism by its predators or its prey. To date, there has been no empirical demonstration of the benefits of masquerade. Here, we show that two species of caterpillar obtain protection from an avian predator by being misidentified as twigs. By manipulating predators’ previous experience of the putative model but keeping their exposure to the masquerader the same, we determined that predators misidentify masquerading prey as their models, rather than simply failing to detect them.

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