Why Evolution Is True

From the Flicker page of Nicky Bay, a photographer from Singapore, we have this beautiful example of mimicry: a spider (not an insect) mimicking a ladybug (“ladybird beetle” to Brits, which is actually more accurate since these insects are members of the order Coleoptera—beetles—rather than that of the “true bugs”, Hemiptera).

Ladybugs are brightly colored with what we biologists call aposematic (“warning”) coloration: a warning to predators to avoid them because they’re bad tasting (ladybugs contain toxic and foul-tasting alkaloids).  Such coloration is common: other examples include black-and-orange striped bees and wasps, the orange-and-black monarch butterfly, and the striking pattern of the noxious striped skunk. (I once had a pet striped skunk for several years—descented, of course. It was a lovely animal, bred in captivity, tame, loving and litter-box trained, but I still feel a bit bad about having a pet whose genome was adapted to living in the…

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