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There are several hypotheses around as possible answers to this question. In general they come down to the benefit of mimicking outweighing the cost of being more conspicuous. Also, many mimics (like the bull snake example) are not especially conspicuous compared to non-mimetic relatives, meaning that the cost of mimicking another organism is even lower. There are many different forms of mimicry, but the main categories discussed here will be Batesian mimicry, death feigning, a form of aggressive mimicry called caudal luring , and sexual mimicry. The most common technique for the study of mimetic systems is the comparative method, since most systems involve two or more separate species and the same basic system is found in many groups of animals. However, within species observation and experimental studies are also performed when applicable. Snakes make a great model group for learning about this subject because all of these broad categories can be found within the suborder serpentes. There are a few especially interesting cases of snake mimicry as well.

Batesian mimicry

a picture of an eastern coral snake and a king snake.
Eastern Coral Snake, Micrurus fulvius , compared to King snake, Lampropeltis sp . Photos by Snakecollector on Flickr and *~DAWN~* on flickr respectively.
*See end of reference section for intellectual property

The most well known and extensively studied form of mimicry is a type of defensive mimicry known as Batesian mimicry . It was first described by, and later named for, Henry Bates who proposed mimicry as the reason for unrelated species of butterflies often having very similar patterns. Batesian mimicry is where a member of a palatable species has the same color patterns and/or body size and shape as a non-palatable species. That is to say that a species that predators would have no problem eating mimics a species that is dangerous or distasteful to eat in either looks or behavior, often both. The benefits to the mimic here are relatively obvious. It gains a greatly decreased chance of being preyed upon since predators will associate it with the dangerous or distasteful nature of the mimicked species. The cost-benefit hypothesis therefore asserts that this benefit outweighs whatever cost the mimicry has on the individual.

a cobra
Bull Snake, Pituophis catenifer sayi. Note that the dorsal markings are similar to those of many rattlesnakes. Photo by Lady Shmee on flickr.

The most well known suggested example of this type of mimicry in snakes is the coral snake and its mimics. However, this system is far more complex than originally thought and is discussed at length in [link] . Another common, and far less complex, system of Batesian mimicry in snakes are the cobras and their mimics. Several species of non-venomous snakes copy the shape of a cobra's hood and strike posture. A further and really excellent example is that of the bull snake, Pituophis catenifer sayi , mimicking rattlesnakes in both looks and behavior (Herrera, Smith,&Chiszar 1981). Not only are the two species patterned very similarly, but the rattlesnake covers all of the bull snake’s native range , and the bull snake also vigorously shakes its tail when threatened, even though it lacks the rattlesnake’s rattle. These traits all added together strongly suggest that bull snakes are true Batesian mimics of rattlesnakes. However, there is some concern expressed by a few scientists that rattlesnakes are too venomous to allow predators to learn from “mistakes” (see [link] ). It has been strongly suggested though, that a rattlesnake does have control over how much venom it injects with any given strike (see figure 3) and often delivers a “sub-lethal” amount when defending itself (Hayes, LavÆn-Murcio,&Kardong 1995). Recently, it has also been shown using model snakes with distinctively viper-like markings that Batesian mimicry definitely does not need bright warning colors to be effective (see [link] ) (Wüster et al. 2004).

Questions & Answers

where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Mockingbird tales: readings in animal behavior. OpenStax CNX. Jan 12, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11211/1.5
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