Chimaera-mimicry in confusing colour-morph of cheetah
Acinonyx jubatus photo by Blossom78
Acinonyx jubatus photo © Ashleyflashley
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