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Dynamic mimicry in an Indo-Malayan octopus

Norman, M.D., Finn, J. and Tregenza, T. (2001) Dynamic mimicry in an Indo-Malayan octopus. Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B: Biological Sciences, 268 (1478). pp. 1755-1758. ISSN 1471-2954

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During research dives in Indonesia (Sulawesi and Bali), we filmed a distinctive long-armed octopus, which is new to science. Diving over 24 h periods revealed that the 'mimic octopus' emerges during daylight hours to forage on sand substrates in full view of pelagic fish predators. We observed nine individuals of this species displaying a repertoire of postures and body patterns, several of which are clearly impersonations of venomous animals co-occurring in this habitat. This 'dynamic mimicry' avoids the genetic constraints that may limit the diversity of genetically polymorphic mimics but has the same effect of decreasing the frequency with which predators encounter particular mimics. Additionally, our observations suggest that the octopus makes decisions about the most appropriate form of mimicry to use, allowing it to enhance further the benefits of mimicking toxic models by employing mimicry according to the nature of perceived threats.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2001 The Royal Society
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > University of Leeds Research Centres and Institutes > Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation (Leeds)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2004
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2014 09:28
Status: Published
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1098/rspb.2001.1708
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/91

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