The Elements of Evolution (43-15-14) Marked Against Predation

 Marked Against Predation

Chemical defense in an evolutionary cycle is common. How it works as a deterrent is not obvious. If every predator had to eat colorful prey to learn an unappetizing lesson, it’s inscrutable how conspicuous colors have the chance to evolve as a defensive strategy. The answer is reputation.

Learning by observing others occurs throughout the animal kingdom. Species ranging from fruit flies to trout can learn about food using social transmission. ~ English zoologist Rose Thorogood

Birds and other animals often see conspecifics take a bite of something. If the reaction to taste is one of disgust, an observer learns to avoid the experience. Such knowledge may be communicated to others as the occasion arises.

The animal world abounds with brilliant colors and striking patterns that either disguise or attract attention. They are all the product of an adaptive strategy to survive predation or increase the chance of propagation. Damselfish exemplify deceptive coloration designed to thwart predators.