Monday, May 30, 2011

The Lubber Grasshopper Defense

I was making my way through the National Zoo when I came to a display panel that talked about aposematism, a phenomena I'd never heard of.

It works like this: suppose you're a Lubber Grasshopper. Your main defense capability is that you can convert plant toxin into a noxious secretion (handy, right?). Rather than attempting to blend in, you do the complete opposite. You develop the equivalent of a hunter's-orange skin pattern. You basically shout, here I am, just try to eat me. Over time predators learn that sure, they can eat you, but in doing so they are going to get a whole lot of nasty in the process. Over time, the predators learn, and you're left alone.

It's sort of reverse camouflage.

I find it to be completely unintuitive, and brilliant.

I'm not sure how this information will be useful to me - but it just seems like a strategy worth knowing about.

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