Evolution Intelligent Design

Skunkicity: Convergent evolution in warning signs

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Credit: Dan Dzursin

In “Black, White and Stinky: Explaining Bold Coloration in Skunks” (ScienceDaily June 8, 2011), we learn about warning colors in mammals (who can’t usually do fashion runway colours):

another exceedingly dangerous animal, identified by its warning coloration

… , the authors identified the 10 strongest models, then looked at which variables most commonly occurred in those models. These strongest models were used to calculate summary weights for each factor, an indicator of the importance of each predictor. They found that the evolution of boldly colored body patterns was best explained by body length, habitat openness, anal spray ability and burrowing behavior.

They also found that species with horizontal stripes along the body leading to the tail are more likely to be able to spray their anal gland secretions at predators in defense, suggesting that the stripes also direct the predator’s attention to the area where the weapon is found. Similarly, a previous study found that facial stripes in this group were found in species that defend themselves by fighting, often with strong bites.

Overall, these anti-predator strategies appear to have evolved independently several times among the Carnivora, say Stankowich and colleagues. So, for example, other nocturnal, slow, stocky, small-to-medium animals with bold black-and-white coloration signaling the presence of noxious anal gland secretions and/or the ability to fiercely defend themselves can be found living in open areas in Africa as well as North and South America and Europe.

One Reply to “Skunkicity: Convergent evolution in warning signs

  1. 1
    Robert Byers says:

    This should not be news. in fact just before this i watched a skunk get into a fight and the smell came upon all.
    Its silly to say the stripes of creatures are directions to that creatures danger points.
    It is a law, sorry evolutionists not happenchance, in nature that for creatures with deadly force beyond size will have flashing colours relative to the envirorment.
    So bees, lady bugs, coral snakes, and skunks have bright colours to tell everyone of this danger.
    Skunks stick out in the darkness with their white/black arrangement. So they don’t have to hide or be very easily scared.
    This should be obvious.
    its not the knowledge of the poisons that is the affect on creatures .
    Probably its a combination of the loud, HERE I AM, colour and the fact the creatures are not showing in their body language any fear of being seen that is the great warning in nature.
    creatures simply observing the confidence, not much different from any creature acting tough upon threat, are then intimidated.
    Its not the knowledge of the weapon nor
    the colours that intimidate
    bur rather the boldness the creature shows by casual movement that does the trick.
    the colours just demand attention to this.

    How would evolution of figured this out.
    Mixing genes with casual boldness.?

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