Evolution mimicry: look like a shark to trick others

Image credit: NOAA Southwest Fisheries

Image credit: NOAA Southwest Fisheries

Mimicry is a cool evolutionary strategy that pygmy and dwarf sperm whales have used to get through life with fewer predator attacks. These two marine mammals have incorporated some of the standard characteristics of sharks to scare off other animals that may have considered them possible dinner options.

According to the Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals, both have “a remarkably shark-like form complete with underslung jaw and pigmented fasle gill slit.” What a brilliant idea, to look like a shark with fake gills and everything to trick other top predators into ignoring you. This is one example of how avoiding predators can play a role in evolution. The question remains…how long do predators fall for this trick? Or maybe such a costume fools predators just long enough allowing pygmy and dwarf sperm whales to make a quick getaway.

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