ANIMAL AND PLANT MIMICRY by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent
Kirkus Star


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Patent cautions straight off against taking the words copy, fool, and deceive to imply conscious intent, and she distinguishes between mimicry and camouflage (in the latter case the animal ""looks as if it is not there at all"") and then between Mullerian mimicry (wherein two kinds of dangerous or distasteful animals resemble each other, to mutual benefit) and Batesian, in which a harmless species mimics a dangerous model--resulting in an ""evolutionary race,"" as it behooves the model to evolve away from the mimic. These distinctions and their evolutionary implications are then kept in mind as Patent considers illustrations and variations of the phenomena in butterflies (where it has been most extensively studied) and, more briefly, in birds, fish, reptiles, insects, and plants. Throughout, Patent guides readers easily through what might in lesser hands have been a tangle of exceptions, qualifications, and reconsiderations; she invites them to share in the investigation (Why are only the female African mockers mimics? Of what advantage is a poison so strong it kills the predator?); and she makes of her limited topic another stimulating lesson in natural science.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1979
Publisher: Holiday House