Shimmer and shine may help prey sabotage predators’ aim | Science News


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Shimmer and shine may help prey sabotage predators’ aim

Computer game for birds shows the confusing side of iridescent coloring

7:05pm, April 14, 2015
a greenbottle fly

SHIMMER FOR SAFETY  That lovely iridescence on a greenbottle fly and myriad other animals might offer a bit of protection from predators.

A peck-the-bug computer game for quail shows that some of nature’s most spectacular coloring might be peacock obvious to the eye but tricky for a predator to grab.

In lab tests, it took birds almost four tries on average to nail an iridescent bug target (roughly inspired by the coloring of a greenbottle fly) as it moved across a gray screen, says Tom Pike of the University of Lincoln in England. The birds pecked similar targets without the shimmer in fewer than three tries on average. And the birds struck closer to the target center on the plain bug stand-ins than on the iridescent ones, Pike reports April 15 in Biology Letters.

This unusual test bolsters the idea that flashy, changeable coloration mig

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