Tag Archive | "reptiles"

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Expert Mimics in Reptile World

Posted on 29 May 2012 by RE Team

Mimicking other people or personality is considered as one of the popular comedy act by us. It may look like an intelligent act for human, but nature has already adopted this intelligence for some other reasons. In this article we are covering the expert mimics in the Reptile world.
Milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum) found in both Northern and Southern American continents are harmless snake. This snake has similar banded appearance like coral snake. This is a form of mimicry and happens only those regions where milk snake and coral snake are found together. In other regions, milk snake doesn’t look like the coral snake. As coral snake is poisonous, this mimicry is to scare any enemies. There is a difference in the band pattern of the both snakes, so it can be identified by human. There are sayings like this to identify the actual poisonous snake: ” Red next to black, you can pat him on the back; red next to yellow, he can kill a fellow.”


Milk Snake(Left) mimicking Coral Snake(right) - courtesy kingsnake.com


Similar to Milk Snake, Scarlet King Snake also mimics Coral Snake . Scarlet King Snake is also non-poisonous. They are born with white bands. The juveniles develop the yellow, apricot, or tangerine colored banding slowly.

The above two are example of snake mimicry where the harmless snakes mimic like a poisonous snake to keep their enemies away. This characteristic is called Batesian Mimicry. It was discovered by scientist H.W. Bate over a hundred years back and named after him only.

Some blind legless lizards that live under the ground trick their enemies by showing their tails. The under side of the tail is usually red or yellow that looks like an open mouth. The enemy attacks the tail mistaking it for head. The tail can withstand much more injury that the head and so the life of the lizard is saved.

Many Lizards have a tail differently coloured from rest of their body. When the enemy attacks them, they break off their tail. The tail jumps about on the ground that confuses the enemy. The Lizard makes a good escape during this confusion.

Another Lizard(Eremias lugubris) in Souther Africa mimics notorious and noxious ‘oogpister’ beetles when young. The adults are cryptically coloured and blend with the red-tan colours of the Kalahari semi-desert.  However,  the juveniles are jet-black and white and very conspicuous and move with stiff, jerky movements with their backs strongly arched and with the paler-coloured tails pressed to the ground. They actually just mimic the Oogpister beetles found in the region and predators avoid the threat of the pungent, acidic fluid sprayed by these beetles when threatened.

A Lizard(anguid) of northeastern Brazil shows striking similarities in color, pattern, size, behavior to the noxious millipede, Rhinocricus albidolimbatus,  when it is juvenile. This is also believed to be a Batesian Mimicry.


Video on Lizard Mimicing Beetle


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The World of the Reptiles

Posted on 19 May 2012 by RE Team

One of the most successful life form of the Earth is Reptile. Reptiles were the initial rulers of Earth. Though their throne was overthrown by catastrophic events  few million years ago, yet reptiles are considered very powerful genre of animals till date.

The reptiles first appeared in Earth around 340 million years ago. They evolved from their ancestors amphibians, but they became stronger than the amphibians in two ways, a scaly outer skin that provided better protection and amniotic eggs that is independent of water. This helped them to increase the boundary from water to land. The reptiles flourished and diversified in wide variety types and soon became more dominant from the rest in the planet. They not only limit themselves to water and land, they started exploring the sky too. The reptiles started ruling the planet with power and intelligence. They evolved themselves to gigantic size known today as dinosaurs. They ruled land and sky for more than hundred million years until some exactly unknown catastrophic events. Their dynasty came to an end.


The Tuatara - Surviving for 220 million years now


Millions of years ago, Earth was dominated by 20 groups of reptiles. But 16 of them lost the game of survival over the course of time. These 16 groups includes some magnificent animals that we can just imagine now.

There are only four groups of reptiles that are surviving today.

The largest surviving reptile group is the Squamata. The squamata includes lizards and snakes. There are around 6000 known living species of squamata.

The second group of today’s reptiles is the Crocodilians. It includes crocodiles, alligators and caimans. There are 23 species of Crocodiles are surviving. They are the largest of all present days reptiles. The Crocodilians first appeared about 84 million years ago and they are the closest living relatives of the birds.

The third groups is the Turtles. They are the oldest of the living reptiles.  The turtles have changed little since they first appeared some 220 million years ago. They have a protective shell that encloses their body and provides protection and camouflage. There are 294 known species of turtles.

The fourth and the last surviving among the reptiles is called Tuataras. It is in fact the smallest group of reptiles. There is only kind of animal that represents this groups, named same as the group Tuatara. They are surviving on remote islands of New Zealand today. They are lizard-like in appearance but the fundamental difference is that their skull is not jointed.  They first appeared around 220 million years ago and considered as living fossil by the researchers!

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Photos of Nature