That’s No Snake! Jaw-Dropping Case of Biomimicry

If you saw this little guy in the wild, you'd probably recoil in terror, thinking you're looking at the menacing eyes of a viper. In fact, it's not a reptile at all. Amazingly, some species of caterpillars are experts at mimicking snakes using a combination of unusual serpentine markings and snake-like behavior.

Pictured above is the Hemeroplanes triptolemus, the larvae of an Amazonian moth. Those 'eye patches' are markings on the sides of the caterpillar's body. When threatened, it expands its anterior body segments to make it look like a snake. It'll even strike at potential predators in a surprisingly convincing movement.

A related species can be seen in the photos above, looking just as reptile-like, but with different body and eye patterns. The natural world is full of these fascinating mimics, with flies pretending to be bees, moths marked to look like owl eyes, and harmless snakes that resemble venomous species.

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