Chimaera-mimicry in juvenile cheetah
Acinonyx jubatus juveniles with mother photo © Mathias Appel
Mellivora capensis photo © Jaganath
The juvenile colouration of the cheetah exemplifies chimaera-mimicry. The body imitates that of the honey badger while the head imitates that of the juvenile lion. This deception protects the juvenile cheetah from non-human predators because confusion delays attack; the mimicry is not precise enough to be convincing but because both models carry such emotional charge the incongruous combination enhances rather than detracting from the pretence.
Robin and the Honey Badger, 15 March 2016
Acinonyx jubatus juveniles photo © belgianchocolate