It is a clever trick if you can pull it off – mimic another, more dangerous animal and so avoid being eaten.
Many insects try it, but it has been a long standing puzzle why some of the worst mimics in Nature can still seem to escape becoming a meal.
Now, Canadian scientists tell Nature journal they can answer that one.
Larger animals, they say, make for more substantial meals, and so their mimicry needs to be spot on. For small prey, a great performance is not so essential.
“Mimicry of harmless species pretending to be dangerous ones in order to avoid being eaten is one of the best celebrated examples of the outcome of evolution by natural selection,” says Professor Tom Sherratt, of Carleton University in Ottawa, who led the research.
An international team of researchers have discovered that human bipedalism, or walking upright, may have originated millions of years ago as an adaptation to carrying scarce, high-quality resources.
The team of researchers from the U.S., England, Japan and Portugal investigated the behaviour of modern-day chimpanzees as they competed for food resources, in an effort to understand what ecological settings would lead a large ape – one that resembles the 6 million-year old ancestor we shared in common with living chimpanzees – to walk on two legs.
Before them are dozens of massive stone pillars arranged into a set of rings, one mashed up against the next. Known as Göbekli Tepe (pronounced Guh-behk-LEE TEH-peh), the site is vaguely reminiscent of Stonehenge, except that Göbekli Tepe was built much earlier and is made not from roughly hewn blocks but from cleanly carved limestone pillars splashed with bas-reliefs of animals—a cavalcade of gazelles, snakes, foxes, scorpions, and ferocious wild boars. The assemblage was built some 11,600 years ago, seven millennia before the Great Pyramid of Giza. It contains the oldest known temple. Indeed, Göbekli Tepe is the oldest known example of monumental architecture—the first structure human beings put together that was bigger and more complicated than a hut. When these pillars were erected, so far as we know, nothing of comparable scale existed in the world.