Animal aposematism - Definition and examples

Some animals have a very intense coloring that easily attracts attention. Others even have elaborate drawing patterns that include all kinds of geometric shapes worthy of a cubist painting. The result is beautiful butterflies, metallic-colored beetles, or eccentric frogs..

The colors of these animals are too conspicuous and reveal the position of the bearer in front of their predators. Apparently, we could say that it does not have much advantage for survival, but, in reality, its color serves as protection. ¿You want to know why? In this AnimalWised article, we talk about the animal aposematism, its definition and the most curious examples.

You may also be interested in: Animal mimicry - Definition, types and examples Index
  1. Definition of animal aposematism
  2. Aposematism in the animal kingdom and evolution
  3. Aposematism and animal mimicry
  4. Aposematism in ladybugs
  5. Aposematism in monarch and viceroy butterflies
  6. Aposematism in wasps
  7. Aposematism in mantis shrimp
  8. Animal aposematism in salamanders
  9. Aposematism in animals: skunks

Definition of animal aposematism

Aposematism is a mechanism by which an animal drives away their predators Without much effort. It does so thanks to the possession of some color patterns easily identifiable warning of toxicity, bad taste or defense systems.

As a result, the predator learns to recognize color patterns and relates them to a dangerous or unpalatable prey. Therefore, he decides that it is better to go find food elsewhere..

Animal aposematism is a very effective form of communication. In the following AnimalWised article, you will learn about other types of Communication between animals.

Aposematism in the animal kingdom and evolution

Animal aposematism it is the result of the evolution of the species who own it and its predators. Broadly speaking, prey with patterns that are easily recognizable as dangerous are more likely to survive. As a result, these animals have more offspring and pass their genes on to the next generation, who will inherit their colors..

Similarly, predators that don't recognize these patterns are upset or even killed. Therefore, those who know how to recognize poisonous or dangerous prey are the ones who survive and can leave more offspring. In this way, predators and aposematic prey evolve together and "select " each other throughout evolution.

Aposematism and animal mimicry

When several species of animals present the same aposematic color pattern acquired independently, they are said to have undergone a mimicry process. If both have defense systems, it is a matter of Müllerian mimicry; but if only one of them can defend itself, we speak of Batesian mimicry. In the latter case, we say that the copier or "phony " species presents a false aposematism.

If you want to know more and see examples, we will tell you in this other AnimalWised article about Animal Mimicry - Definition, types and examples.

Aposematism in ladybugs

Ladybugs, ladybugs or San Antonio vaquitas are coleopterans of the Coccinellidae family. They frequently present red or yellow colors vivid tones. These colors are indicative of its bad taste. In this way, the predators who try them decide not to taste an animal with the same appearance again..

Thanks to animal aposematism, ladybugs can be considered one of the most beautiful insects in the world. The best known is Coccinella septempunctata.

Aposematism in monarch and viceroy butterflies

The monarch butterflyDanaus plexippus) presents a beautiful orange, black and white coloration. This insect feeds on plants of the genus Milkweed they have a toxic component. However, instead of being affected, the monarch butterfly accumulates these toxins in your body as a defense mechanism against predators.

The viceroy butterflyLimenitis archippus) is also toxic and has a almost identical coloring to that of the monarch butterfly. As a result, predators only have to recognize one color pattern and everyone wins..

Aposematism in wasps

Many types of wasps (different taxa of the order Hymenoptera) have yellow and black concentric rings running through their abdomen. Its predators interpret this coloring as a hazard, so they do not dare to eat them. And they are right, since wasps have a very powerful stinger. A magnificent example is the European hornet (Vespa crabro).

Aposematism in mantis shrimp

Mantis shrimp (Gonodactylus smithii) live on the coral reef of Australia. It is a crustacean with a privileged view and very bright colors. Is a toxic animal plus, very dangerous.

It is due to its sharp pincers that it uses to hit its prey with a great acceleration, so much that it generates cavitation in the water and can kill other animals without hitting them directly.

For more information, you may be interested in this other article about The most dangerous animals in the world.

Animal aposematism in salamanders

Salamanders (order Urodelos) have skin toxins and, many times, other toxic elements that can spray from a distance. Many of them warn their predators thanks to animal aposematism. A good example of this are the colors yellow and black of the common salamanderSalamander salamander).

Another example is the spectacled salamander (Salamander sp.), who presents the ventral part of his body stained with red, black and white. The red is concentrated in the back, the tail and the extremities. When disturbed, they lift their head and legs while curling their tail towards their head. Thus, they show the color red and ward off predators.

If you find amphibians interesting, don't miss this other article about Where and how amphibians breathe.

Aposematism in animals: skunks

Mephitids (family Mephitidae) are black and white mammals. These colors do not help to camouflage themselves in the ecosystems where skunks live, but they are the indicators of a hidden defense: a foul odor secreted by your anal glands. It is one of the few examples of animal aposematism in mammals.

One of the most widespread skunks is Mephitis mephitis, known as striped skunk.

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