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

Acinonyx jubatus photo © Steve Jurvetson

Acinonyx jubatus photo © Steve Jurvetson

Links to the images that inspired this bio-insight: