Talk about camouflage and mimicry!

Talk about camouflage and mimicry!

Ant ImageTalk about camouflage and mimicry! Camouflage and mimicry are adaptations some animals use as protection from predators: moth caterpillar defends itself by mimicking a snake, stick insects disguised by its twig-like appearance, moths appear to blend in with their resting places and merge in the bark. An animal that uses camouflage looks like things in its environment. It might look like a leaf, a twig, or a rock. Animals that use mimicry use colors and markings to look like another animal.
National Geographic News in its report last January 16 wrote about a parasite which can be found in the tropical forests
of Central and South America which makes its ant hosts look like delicious berries ready for the pick when in fact, the ant’s rear was actually infested.
This bizarre yet interesting fruit mimicry by a parasite was accepted for publication in The American Naturalist. The discovery was incidental to another study being undertaken on Cephalotes atratus ants regarding its ability to glide.
The researchers noticed the bright red abdomen and decided to slice it open in the lab and found it to be full of eggs of “parasitic nematode” or roundworm.
Scientists have discovered a parasite in the tropical forests of Central and South America that makes its ant hosts look like juicy, red berries ripe for the picking.
It seemed, according to the report, researchers hypothesise that this has to be a mechanism for transport of parasites to a new colony. The ants which were infected became prey to birds, then get excreted and eaten by other
ants which feed on bird faeces and the parasites get spread among the ant colonies.
The report indicated that the researchers have not witnessed birds eating infected ants, however, they have tested this supposition on chickens eating infested ants and chicken droppings showed unscathed parasite eggs.
For full story, refer http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/01/080117-ant-berries.html – Parasite Makes Ants Resemble
Berries by John Roach for National Geographic News.