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Chimaera-mimicry in confusing colour-morph of cheetah 



Acinonyx jubatus photo by Blossom78
Acinonyx jubatus photo © Ashleyflashley  
Acinonyx jubatus photo © HESC
Acinonyx jubatus photo © Jitze Couperus 

The melanistic colour-morph of the cheetah is vaguely reminiscent of the leopard, but with an anomalous patch on the side of the neck. Although not obvious to human eyes, this spotless patch may be conspicuous to other carnivores if it resembles the neck of the female lion in reflecting ultraviolet light. We interpret this combination of ostensibly clumsy resemblances as chimaera-mimicry  – in which it is the confusion caused rather than the false identities as such that is effective in buying time for escape.


Robin and the Honey Badger, 22 March 2016


Cheetah morph
Acinonyx jubatus photo © Steve Jurvetson 
Acinonyx jubatus photo © Steve Jurvetson
i.e. more intensely pigmented than the normal colour-morph
Last modified on 08 January 2017

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