Nature is full of examples of animals that mimic other animals to fool predators into thinking they’re toxic or dangerous. For example, some moths mimic wasps, and some flies mimic bees.
One of the strangest examples of animal mimicry was recently reported in an article published in The American Naturalist. A South American bird called the cinereous mourner (Laniocera hypopyrra) is grey and rather dull-looking when fully grown. However, when newly hatched, they are bright orange, with long feathers that make them look like hairy little caterpillars.
In addition to their appearance, their movements also mimic caterpillars, as you can see in this video:
The authors also found a caterpillar in the area that resembled the baby birds (or vice versa), which supports their hypothesis that the birds evolved to resemble the caterpillars.
“The caterpillar we encountered measured 12 cm, which closely matches the size of the L. hypopyrra nestling (14 cm during the first 14 days),” they wrote. “But the striking morphological similarity is the caterpillar’s orange ‘hairs’ with white tips, which match almost exactly the nestling’s elongated orange downy feather barbs with bright white tips. The morphological appearance of an aposematic caterpillar was reinforced by behavior: the caterpillar-like head movements of nestlings (when disturbed) closely resembles the movements of the aposematic caterpillar.”
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