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is a group of Curculionidæ, forming the genus Pachyrhynchus, in which all the species are adorned with the most brilliant metallic colours, banded and spotted in a curious manner, and are very smooth and hard. Other genera of Curculionidæ (Desmidophorus, Alcides), which are usually very differently coloured, have species in the Philippines which mimic the Pachyrhynchi ; and there are also several longicorn beetles (Aprophata, Doliops, Acronia, and Agnia), which also mimic them. Besides these, there are some longicorns and cetonias which reproduce the same colours and markings; and there is even a cricket (Scepastus pachyrhynchoides), which has taken on the form and peculiar coloration of these beetles in order to escape from enemies, which then avoid them as uneatable. The figures on the opposite page exhibit several other examples of these mimicking insects.
Innumerable other cases of mimicry occur among tropical insects ; but we must now pass on to consider a few of the very remarkable, but much rarer instances, that are found among the higher animals.
Mimicry among the Vertebrata. Perhaps the most remarkable cases yet known are those of certain harmless snakes which mimic poisonous species. The genus Elaps, in tropical America, consists of poisonous snakes which do not belong to the viper family (in which are included the rattlesnakes and most of those which are poisonous), and which do not possess the broad triangular head which characterises the latter. They have a peculiar style of coloration, consisting of alternate rings of red and black, or red, black, and yellow, of different widths and grouped in various ways in the different species ; and it is a style of coloration which does not occur in any other group of snakes in the world. But in the same regions are found three genera of harmless snakes, belonging to other families, some few species of which mimic the poisonous Elaps, often so exactly that it is with difficulty one can be distinguished from the other. Thus Elaps fulvius in Guatemala is imitated by the harmless Pliocerus equalis; Elaps corallinus in Mexico is mimicked by the
1 Compte-Rendu de lu Société Entomologique de Belyaue, series ii., No. 59, harmless Homalocranium semicinctum ; and Elaps lemniscatus
in Brazil is copied by Oxyrhopus trigeminus; while in other · parts of South America similar cases of mimicry occur, some
times two harmless species imitating the same poisonous snake.
A few other instances of mimicry in this group have been recorded. There is in South Africa an egg-eating snake (Dasypeltis scaber), which has neither fangs nor teeth, yet it is very like the Berg adder (Clothos atropos), and when alarmed renders itself still more like by flattening out its head and darting forward with a hiss as if to strike a foe. Dr. A. B. Meyer has also discovered that, while some species of the genus Callophis (belonging to the same family as the Elaps) have very large poison-glands in the body-cavity, other species of the same genus have the usual small glands, and that one of the latter, C. gracilis, resembles one of the former, C. malayanus, so closely that only a careful comparison will detect the difference. A similar resemblance exists in several other instances between the less poisonous and the more poisonous species, and there can be little doubt that these are cases of true mimicry among protected groups, as in the case of butterflies protected by distastefulness.”
In the genus Elaps, above referred to, the very peculiar style of colour and marking is evidently a “warning colour” for the purpose of indicating to snake-eating birds and mammals that these species are poisonous; and this throws light on the long-disputed question of the use of the rattle of the rattlesnake. This reptile is really both sluggish and timid, and is very easily captured by those who know its habits. If gently tapped on the head with a stick, it will coil itself up and lie still, only raising its tail and rattling. It may then be easily caught. This shows that the rattle is a warning to its enemies that it is dangerous to proceed to extremities; and the creature has probably acquired this structure and habit because it frequents open or rocky districts where protective colour is needful to save it from being pounced upon by buzzards or other snake-eaters. Quite parallel in function is the expanded hood of the Indian cobra, a poisonous snake which belongs also to the Elapida. This is, no doubt, a warning to its foes, not an attempt to terrify its prey; and the hood has been acquired, as in the case of the rattlesnake, because, protective coloration being on the whole useful, some mark was required to distinguish it from other protectively coloured, but harmless, snakes. Both these species feed on active creatures capable of escaping if their enemy were visible at a moderate distance.
1 Nature, vol. xxxiv. p. 547.
Mimicry among Birds. The varied forms and habits of birds do not favour the production among them of the phenomena of warning colours or of mimicry; and the extreme development of their instincts and reasoning powers, as well as their activity and their power of flight, usually afford them other means of evading their enemies. Yet there are a few imperfect, and one or two very perfect cases of true mimicry to be found among them. The less perfect examples are those presented by several species of cuckoos, an exceedingly weak and defenceless group of birds. Our own cuckoo is, in colour and markings, very like a sparrow-hawk. In the East, several of the small black cuckoos closely resemble the aggressive drongo-shrikes of the same country, and the small metallic cuckoos are like glossy starlings; while a large groundcuckoo of Borneo (Carpococcyx radiatus) resembles one of the fine pheasants (Euplocamus) of the same country, both in form and in its rich metallic colours.
More perfect cases of mimicry occur between some of the dull-coloured orioles in the Malay Archipelago and a genus of large honey-suckers—the Tropidorhynchi or “Friar-birds.” These latter are powerful and noisy birds which go in small flocks. They have long, curved, and sharp beaks, and powerful grasping claws; and they are quite able to defend themselves, often driving away crows and hawks which venture to approach them too nearly. The orioles, on the other hand, are weak and timid birds, and trust chiefly to concealment and to their retiring habits to escape persecution. In each of the great islands of the Austro-Malayan region there is a distinct species of Tropidorhynchus, and there is always along with it an oriole that exactly mimics it. All the Tropidorhynchi have a patch of bare black skin round the eyes, and a ruff of curious pale recurved feathers on the nape, whence their name of Friar-birds, the ruff being supposed to resemble the cowl of a friar. These peculiarities are imitated in the orioles by patches of feathers of corresponding colours; while the different tints of the two species in each island are exactly the same. Thus in Bouru both are earthy brown; in Ceram they are both washed with yellow ochre; in Timor the under surface is pale and the throat nearly white, and Mr. H. O. Forbes has recently discovered another pair in the island of Timor Laut. The close resemblance of these several pairs of birds, of widely different families, is quite comparable with that of many of the insects already described. It is so close that the preserved specimens have even deceived naturalists; for, in the great French work, Voyage de l'Astrolabe, the oriole of Bouru is actually described and figured as a honey-sucker; and Mr. Forbes tells us that, when his birds were submitted to Dr. Sclater for description, the oriole and the honey-sucker were, previous to close examination, considered to be the same species.
Objections to the Theory of Mimicry. To set forth adequately the varied and surprising facts of mimicry would need a large and copiously illustrated volume; and no more interesting subject could be taken up by a naturalist who has access to our great collections and can devote the necessary time to search out the many examples of mimicry that lie hidden in our museums. The brief sketch of the subject that has been here given will, however, serve to indicate its nature, and to show the weakness of the objections that were at first made to it. It was urged that the action of “like conditions," with “accidental resemblances” and “reversion to ancestral types,” would account for the facts. If, however, we consider the actual phenomena as here set forth, and the very constant conditions under which they occur, we shall see how utterly inadequate are these causes, either singly or combined. These constant conditions are— 1. That the imitative species occur in the same area and
occupy the very same station as the imitated.
3. That the imitators are always less numerous in in
dividuals. 4. That the imitators differ from the bulk of their allies. 5. That the imitation, however minute, is external and
visible only, never extending to internal characters or to such as do not affect the external appearance.
These five characteristic features of mimicry show us that it is really an exceptional form of protective resemblance. Different species in the same group of organisms may obtain protection in different ways : some by a general resemblance to their environment; some by more exactly imitating the objects that surround them—bark, or leaf, or flower; while others again gain an equal protection by resembling some species which, from whatever cause, is almost as free from attack as if it were a leaf or a flower. This immunity may depend on its being uneatable, or dangerous, or merely strong ; and it is the resemblance to such creatures for the purpose of sharing in their safety that constitutes mimicry.
Concluding Remarks on Warning Colours and Mimicry. Colours which have been acquired for the purpose of serving as a warning of inedibility, or of the possession of dangerous offensive weapons, are probably more numerous than have been hitherto supposed ; and, if so, we shall be able to explain a considerable amount of colour in nature for which no use has hitherto been conjectured. The brilliant and varied colours of sea-anemones and of many coral animals will probably come under this head, since we know that many of them possess the power of ejecting stinging threads from various parts of their bodies which render them quite uneatable to most animals. Mr. Gosse describes how, on putting an Anthea into a tank containing a half-grown bullhead (Cottus bubalis) which had not been fed for some time, the fish opened his mouth and sucked in the morsel, but instantly shot it out again. He then seized it a second time, and after rolling it about in his mouth for a moment shot it out again, and then darted away to hide himself in a hole. Some tropical fishes, however, of the genera Tetrodon, Pseudoscarus, Astracion, and a few others, seem