Mimicry

DWhatley

Cthulhu
Staff member
Moderator
#1
The "mimic" octopus has sparked many discussions about ceph's ability/intent to mimic other animals for protection. I am starting this thread to collect articles about marine mimicry as a general topic for members interested in reading more on the subject.

Anna DeLoach keeps a web blog on her photography travels with Ned and recently did some photo diving in Indonesia where they observed a sole "mimicing" a flatworm. Before blogging the encounter she did some web research and located this 2005 publication, A Review of Mimicry in Marine Fishes by John E. Randall.

Abstract:
John E. Randall (2005) A review of mimicry in marine fishes. Zoological Studies 44(3): 299-328. The terms
protective resemblance, Batesian mimicry, Müllerian mimicry, aggressive mimicry, and social mimicry are
defined. Color illustrations are given for 20 examples of protective resemblance in marine fishes. Ninety-eight
cases of mimicry in marine fishes are discussed, and 104 color illustrations are presented in support of 56 of
these. The explanation for the mimicry of the juvenile surgeonfish Acanthurus pyroferus by the angelfish
Centropyge vrolikii, based on different food habits of the mimic, model, and the territorial damselfish
Plectroglyphidodon lacrymatus, is questioned. http://www.sinica.edu.tw/Journals/44.3/299.pdf
The article does not mention inverts or cephs but TONMO has discussion about an article showing a fish mimicing an octopus (Thales' blog entry on the observation) and this paragraph brought that siting to mind:

Mahadevan and Nagappan Nayar (1965) observed the yellow and black-barred juvenile
carangid fish Gnathanodon speciosus closely associated with a sea snake of the same color pattern
in southeastern India. When approached, the fish moved closer to the body of the snake, literally
hugging the body. They added that it was difficult to see the fish at first sight because its color
pattern blended with that of the snake. It should be noted, however, that juveniles of G. speciosus
often swim at the flank of large bony fishes or ride the bow wave of sharks.
 

CephBirk

O. bimaculoides
Registered
#2
DWhatley, great idea!

For anyone interested in octopus mimicry, below are the key publications I've found on the subject. I've been looking into the subject for awhile now. The famous "mimic octopus" was first reported in 2001 and first scientifically named in 2005 by Mark Norman. There have been many reports of it mimicking a great variety of marine life. The challenge, however, is figuring out how to determine if an animal is consciously trying to imitate another animal. It is challenging to test the claims made on the mimic octopus without a good way to experimentally determine mimicry...

But for now it sure is fun to see and hear all these reports! The "mimic octopus" (Thaumoctopus mimicus) is not the only octopus reported to mimic, however. Wonderpus photogenicus has also been reported as a mimic. Roger Hanlon and his lab reported another species of octopus engaging in flatfish mimicry in the Atlantic ocean too!

The publications behind all this are below.

Hanlon, R. T., Conroy, L.-anne, & Forsythe, J. W. (2008). Mimicry and foraging behaviour of two tropical sand-flat octopus species off North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 93, 23-38.

Hanlon, R. T., Forsythe, J. W., & Joneschild, D. E. (1999). Crypsis, conspicuousness, mimicry and polyphenism as antipredator defences of foraging octopuses on Indo-Pacific coral reefs , with a method of quantifying crypsis from video tapes. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 66, 1-22.

Hanlon, R. T., Watson, A. C., & Barbosa, A. (2010). A “Mimic Octopus” in the Atlantic: Flatfish mimicry and camouflage by Macrotritopus defilippi. Biological Bulletin, 218, 15-24.

Krajewski, J. P., Bonaldo, R. M., Sazima, C., & Sazima, I. (2009). Octopus mimicking its follower reef fish. Journal of Natural History, 43, 185-190.

Norman, M. D., Finn, J., & Tregenza, T. (2001). Dynamic mimicry in an Indo-Malayan octopus. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 268, 1755-1758.

Norman, M. D., & Hochberg, F. G. (2005). The “Mimic Octopus” (Thaumoctopus mimicus n. gen. et sp.), a new octopus from the tropical Indo-West Pacific (Cephalopoda: Octopodidae). Molluscan Research, 25, 57–70.
 

Neogonodactylus

Haliphron Atlanticus
Staff member
Moderator
#3
Rocha, L. A., R. Ross and G. Kopp. 2012. Opportunistic mimicry by a Jawfish. Coral Reefs, 31:285.

The jawfish - mimic octopus association that Rich mentioned was just published this week in Coral Reefs.

Roy
 

DWhatley

Cthulhu
Staff member
Moderator
#5
I think the most unusual aspect of Thaumoctopus mimicus is not so much that it mimics something else but the number of animals it is supposed to mimic (as caricatured by Level_Head's poster).
 

CephBirk

O. bimaculoides
Registered
#7
The jawfish - mimic octopus association is interesting! It's second degree mimicry: one mimic is mimicking another mimic, neither of which are poisonous or dangerous yet both are evading predation! I wonder how many degrees of separation you could get from an actual dangerous animal. Does anybody know any other models of 2+ degree mimicry?
 

GPO87

Sepia elegans
Staff member
Moderator
#8
I think this thread is a great idea D! I did a little digging and found this (rather lengthy) paper , by John Randall, on mimicry in fishes. Now it does focus both on mimicry or other animals and camoflage, so you have to do some skimming to find the relevent information. It has some fantastic color photos in it, and is quite an interesting read. (I know it's not about cephs, but you did say "general marine mimicry")
 

Thales

Colossal Squid
Staff member
Moderator
#10
cephbirk;189118 said:
The jawfish - mimic octopus association is interesting! It's second degree mimicry: one mimic is mimicking another mimic, neither of which are poisonous or dangerous yet both are evading predation! I wonder how many degrees of separation you could get from an actual dangerous animal. Does anybody know any other models of 2+ degree mimicry?
The Jawfish is a Mimic? We called it opportunistic mimicry because that is what the jawfish seems to look like all the time.
 

CephBirk

O. bimaculoides
Registered
#12
Thales;189128 said:
The Jawfish is a Mimic? We called it opportunistic mimicry because that is what the jawfish seems to look like all the time.
Even if it looks the same all the time, if it is changing its behavior to match the octopus, could that be considered mimicry? Behavioral change rather than morphological? In fact, few animals can change their morphology to mimic others. I'd be willing to say that quite a few mimics are at least in part behavioral mimics.
 

Thales

Colossal Squid
Staff member
Moderator
#13
cephbirk;189154 said:
Even if it looks the same all the time, if it is changing its behavior to match the octopus, could that be considered mimicry? Behavioral change rather than morphological? In fact, few animals can change their morphology to mimic others. I'd be willing to say that quite a few mimics are at least in part behavioral mimics.
What is the difference between hiding and mimicry?
 

gjbarord

Sepia elegans
Staff member
Moderator
#16
Hmm... Interesting paper, thread, and video. I haven't worked with jawfish in a while, but do they usually stay in only one shelter or do they move about and make more shelters throughout their lives? How large are their "territories"? I'm just wondering about the adaptiveness of this relationship. How often do mimics come around a jawfish shelter? How often does s jawfish use the mimic?

Rich, I think you should get back out there and look into this in great detail!!! :grin:

Greg
 

Thales

Colossal Squid
Staff member
Moderator
#17
I agree Greg!

There are a lot of T. mimicus videos out there, and this is the first one to show the jawfish which is another reason we called it opportunistic mimicry. My understanding is that most jawfish will move from time to time to new shelters, but I will look into it this week - as well as the 'territory' issues.

Hmmm, write a grant that sends me to Lembeh....?
 

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