Jul 1

If ARKive existed in the Transformers film universe, we’d likely have Megatron to thank for our existence. The technology for our site would probably be a derivative of the research undertaken on his icily-entombed body at Sector 7.. but I digress.    

Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, sentient alien robots which disguise themselves as seemingly ordinary objects have yet to visit Earth. As it turns out, you don’t actually have to be from Cybertron to possess this incredible ability. Take a look at these natural mimics.   

Hiding in plain sight   

The leafy seadragon’s exquisite disguise gives it the appearance of algae and seagrass beds, in an example of cryptic mimicry.  

Leafy seadragon, photo

Leafy seadragon swimming


Not a bumblebee at all, but could easily be mistaken for one. Batesian mimicry is a form of defensive mimicry in which a relatively defenceless species like this hawk-moth attempts to look like something which packs more of a punch.  

Narrow-bordered bee hawk-moth, photo
Narrow-bordered bee hawk-moth mimicing a bumblebee

Beast wars  

An aggressive mimic, the alligator snapping turtle’s tongue looks like a delicious wormy morsel. As an unsuspecting fish comes closer for a bite, those powerful jaws close in around it.  

Photo, alligator snapping turtle lure

Alligator snapping turtle lure mimicing a juicy worm


Another aggressive mimic, this one is a bit of a tongue twister. Fly orchids exhibit Pouyannian mimicry, where the flower looks and smells like a female fly or bee. Being totally reliant on these species for pollination, the tactic pays off well for the orchid, but may be a little bit disappointing to any hopeful Hymenopteran suitors.  

Fly orchid photo

Fly orchid in flower

Plovers, roll out   

To finish off, another example of cryptic mimesis. Can you spot these wrybill eggs?  

Photo of wrybill eggs on nest

Wrybill eggs on nest, showing camouflage

Rob Morgan, ARKive Media Researcher   

  • saeideh jolany (July 5th, 2011 at 5:19 am):

    great, it was so great, i love them alot, they are so capable. thank you so much Mr Rob Mrgan and your other partners.