From Real Monstrosities via Ed Yong via Matthew Cobb comes one of the best cases of mimicry I’ve ever seen. Natural selection has been a fantastic artist here, giving a perfect illusion of three-dimensionality. In fact, this may be the most astonishing case of mimicry I know. 5
It’s a moth from eastern Asia: Uropyia meticulodina—a fantastic dead-leaf mimic
Masquerade appears to have evolved on multiple occasions, and its ecological importance requires further investigation in light of our experiments. 1
The diversity in color patterns on butterfly wings provides great potential for understanding how developmental mechanisms may be modulated in the evolution of adaptive traits. 2
Mimicry can result in an evolutionary arms race if mimicry negatively affects the model, and the model can evolve a different appearance from the mimic. It is widely accepted that mimicry evolves as a positive adaptation. 3
Many organisms appear to mimic inanimate objects such as twigs, leaves, stones, and bird droppings. Such adaptations are considered to have evolved because their bearers are misidentified as either inedible objects by their predators, or as innocuous objects by their prey. Although the mechanisms underlying the initial evolution of masquerade remain unclear, it is reasonable to assume that masquerading species evolved from cryptic ancestors. 4
To be a good mimic of another species requires many pattern elements of bars, lines, colors, and even wing shapes to change at once. Moreover, how can this process produce females that are perfect mimics and males that look nothing of the sort within a single species? These genetic requirements are seemingly at odds with our understanding of gradual evolutionary change and genes of small effect. 6
It is hard to believe that this similarity in coloration and body shape could be some random accident, but rather part of a special creation from an Intelligent Designer.