The costa rican moth caterpillar

Dr Lou Natic

Unnecessary Surgeon
Registered Senior Member

I posted a picture of this creature in another thread but I thought it would bring it to some biologist's attention and ask some questions.
How did this thing evolve?
I don't understand how it's genes could "learn" from its ancestors that mimicking a completely different animal(a viper) would be a good defense.
Doesn't this break all the rules of evolution? Genetically its about as far from a snake as you can get so how did it even "know" there was such a thing as snakes and that they were feared?
Hehe, if you were a small bird would you eat something that looked like a viper? Most likely you would fly away for you life! Mimicry for warding or scaring off predators is quit common in nature and does not violate the theory of evolution.
I'm not denying it would work, I just don't understand how mimicry occurs in evolution. I know there are many mimmicries in nature and they all baffle me but this is the most bizarre of all.
I'm sure someone can explain, I just don't understand and thats why I'm asking.
My knowledge of evolution can't fathom a species mimmicking a completely different species.
Ok so some members of a moth species branch off and start living a different lifestyle to their ancestors, their physical appearance may change to better suit their environment and so on, but, how did they know about vipers? What type of interaction would be required for their genes to start shaping them like vipers as a defense? I don't get it...
It not hard it just that one animal may kind off look like another by random luck of mutation, if this similarity in appearance is a benefit then evolution kicks in and the similarity is refined to mimicry.
Refined? Pretty refined alright! It looks EXACTLY like a viper. I understand what you said and I can see how that would happen with say, a snapper turtles tongue looking like a worm, but this seems a bit more specialised and unlikely to have just accidently happened. It really does seem as though the caterpillars would need to observe vipers and understand they are feared or something weird like that. I prefer to think nature is in control but I know this is frowned upon by fundamental evolutionists, so I ask how this caterpillar naturally came about? I still can't understand.
Also why will the cure to an insects sting likely be found in a plant near the insects place of origin? In case you don't know this is a common occurence, for example; often in an area populated by bull ants a type of tree who's leaves harbour a soothing juice that renders said bull ants sting painless will be in the area.
There are many many many little coincidences in nature that don't fit evolutions strictly business reputation.
Had to stretch a little for that one...didn't you..? (Amazing photghaph)

After publishing "Origin of the Species" Darwin concluded The holes in his theory, the....."missing links", were getting farther apart rather than closer together.

He would have abandoned it altogether, if atheists hadn't rallied around it as "proof" the bible was wrong at last, and pumped life back into it's dead carcass.....finally overturning the teaching of creation in public schools in 1925.

Yet another example of the "so-called" impartiality of the scientific method hijacked by a political agenda.

Although the theory of Evolution is flawed, there was a missing link.
The bible has hidden the knowledge of the missng link for over 3500 years......and science still hasn't a clue where it is.
I would have to disagree about that, but now we are go into how our threshold of to-complex-to-happen-evolutionarily varies. I have no problem with the moth evolving that level of mimicry by normal evolution... you on the other hand do

There are many many many little coincidences in nature that don't fit evolutions strictly business reputation.

Aah there coincidences! hence they are not a problem, just flukes.

Don't start bringing fallacies in this forum ok? Even if Darwin repented it does not affect the validity of his theory (Ad Hominem Tu Quoque). Also claiming the nature of those who follow has anything to do with it is also ad hom. Fallacy.

As for the link problem that has been solve UNARGUABLE by genetic testing which shows all life related and who evolved from what… we can even trace the individual mutations over the eons.
I still totally believe in evolution and don't think this adds any credibility to any existing religions by any means but I think it does go against some of the common ideas on evolution. You don't seem to be perplexed by it at all wellcookedfetus so I assume you know the explanation but find it hard to explain right now and I understand. But I for one am still confused.
Its a very strange thing to adapt. Its like if a caterpillar developed a butt that resembled a hand giving the middle finger to ward off easily offended children or something.

How does it know about snakes? You can say it happened to look sort of like a snake after evolving for a while and then it turned out that worked so it kept it, but it would take too much trial and error to make it look EXACTLY like a green tree viper, colourations and all. A viper that happens to reside in the same area.

Its like something people would think of to scare something away and the only reason we could come up with the idea is if we had a knowledge of vipers and had seen them and knew that what we were trying to scare off was afraid of them. Clearly caterpillars don't know this and I can't see how there genes would either, mother nature would know all this though of course.
No I just explained it to you in my first post... you just don't seem to see that a viable?

The caterpillar never knew about snakes. once the was a caterpillar that had a butt that look some kind like a snake (lets say it had two black spots on it, that all!) this deformity was able to make some bird not eat the caterpillar and as such the caterpillar reproduce better then its comrades. After many generations the mutation was refined to be better and better at tricking the birds... in the end it was so good it could even trick a human.
Ok, I guess that could be possible, thats what I figured but it seems to me that there hasn't been quite enough years in earths history for the caterpillars shape to trial and error all the way to perfectly resembling a snake.
I mean how many shapes would it need to try before it got the perfect vipers head shape and texture and everything? Regardless of how it came about it surely is remarkable, I am starting to think you are right but, as is often the case, the explanation is even more astonishing than the imagination. It still conjures up questions, is it likely that the evolutionary process we know of on this earth is standard and fairly similar throughout the universe? It seems to me that on any fertile planet the process would start out the same as ours and considering the similarities common on our planet, wouldn't it be fair to say similar creatures would be on other life harbouring planets? I mean in an ocean isn't there bound to be flat ray like creatures on all the planets because it is a natural adaptation to the sea floor?
This is hard to explain, do you know what I mean?
I've heard people say life on other planets would be completely different to our own and wouldn't work in a similar way at all but I'm starting to think it would be fairly paralell to our evolution with some minor differences on account of the events that occured.
Its like if a caterpillar developed a butt that resembled a hand giving the middle finger to ward off easily offended children or something.
But that mutation wouldn't be able to continue on. Sure, easily offended children would run away, but the other children would get angry and kill the caterpillar out of spite, because, "hey, a bug just flipped me the bird."

The problem I see is this. You are looking at the situation from the standpoint that the caterpillar is in control of what it looks like. That it has to be aware of its surroundings, and know what will work and what won't. That, however, is not the case. It is as WellCooked described.

You have an interesting theory there, regarding life in other systems. I would tend to agree with you, under the assumption that the conditions are similar to earth, with a carbon-based life system and whatnot. The thing people are grappling with is whether or not that is the case. The life in other situations could be based around a different element (perhaps one that doesn't exist here). Although, from our observation it certainly appears as though carbon is the only choice.
That is very interesting, Vortexx, but not quite the same as what we were discussing. Octopii are highly intelligent, and have learned that they can escape danger by looking deadly. I didn't read the whole thing, but did it say that there are numerous specimens doing this, or only a few?

I ask this, because I saw a show about a heron that learned through observation that fish came up to eat bread that children had thrown in the water for ducks. So the bird gets in the middle of all the ducks, takes a piece of bread, and flies to another area of the waterway. Then, it puts the bread down, and waits for a fish. There was only one bird they saw doing this, and since they can't teach eachother, it will be the last. It showed camera footage of it doing it too. Very cool.
I find it very unlikely that life exist in non-carbon bases form… well at least natural life, but hey that my biochem. prospective.

Don't you dare say there are other elements out there, because there are not! Well unless you mean qurktronium (the stuff at the center of a neutron star)? Ya now that I think about something could hypothetically live as strong matter... ya it would weigh a million pounds per cubic mm and only in a neutron star. It would also be very very small.
That was cool vortexx
National geographic news huh? I'll have to check that out more often. The story about octopai having a brain in each arm was fascinating too.

The only problem I had with the costa rican moth caterpillar was how perfect its disguise is, it still blows my mind, I know you are probably right but think about it, thats pretty amazing. To hit and miss its way to looking exactly like the local tree snake, I mean how many changes can it make in say a million years? not many, and it would have to try different shapes and colours to realise they don't work. So the fact that it has been crafted into such a perfect disguise is phenomenal.

(I know it doesn't "realise" anything I just don't know how else to put it, like I know any caterpillar with a bad disguise will get killed and good disguised caterpillars become moths and breed, but when did it go from being a good disguise that confused predators, to a perfect mimmicrie of a different animal?)

just because you cant see something, it doesnt mean that it doesnt exist.

just because you dont understand something it doesnt mean it cant happen.

Of course, both of these apply to jesus freaks and aethists so maybe the bickering over who is right will stop. EVERYONE IS RIGHT!!! =) least in their own mind ;)
I don't know what this has to do with the subject but;
yes everyone is right in there own minds, but the fact is there is a definitive answer to everything.

Now how about the costa rican moth caterpillar? Its pretty cool huh?
ok 3 moths
moth A = normal
moth B = looks 1% like a viper (by chance pigment change)
moth C = normal

bird comes in.. eats moth A and moth C. not sure about moth B. leaves it alone so now we have.

moth B = 1% like a viper
moth B alive and well so flys off to have children:

moth D = looks 1% like viper
moth E = looks 0% like viper
moth F = looks 10% like viper

bird comes in. eats moth D and E. not sure about F. lets it go

moth F has children:

moth G = looks 0% like viper
moth H = looks 10% like viper
moth I = looks 100% like viper

bird eats G and H
moth I has children.. all 100%

Dr Low comes in.. takes picture. posts on exosci :)