You Will Never Guess What This Ecuadorian Creature Actually Is

Mimicry is a common defense mechanism in nature, demonstrated in situations such as non-poisonous snakes closely copying the pattern of a poisonous one. This little caterpillar from Ecuador, hemeroplanes triptolemus, takes mimicry to a whole new level with a body that resembles the head of a snake.

To further sell the mimicry to predators such as birds and lizards, the caterpillar also replicates some snake behavior by twisting its body about. The copycat snake head is made from body segments near the caterpillar’s real head that inflate when it feels threatened. When the body fully inflates, the caterpillar’s pattern takes full shape by creating the illusion of a snake’s eyes opening, sure to make any predator think twice.

After its spectacular turn as a snake-like caterpillar, hemeroplanes triptolemus transforms into a beautiful sphinx moth. Check out this article about the genetics behind the pattern of its distant cousin, the peppered moth.

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