Copyright

Batesian Mimicry: Examples & Definition

Batesian Mimicry: Examples & Definition
Coming up next: Chaparral Biome: Definition & Locations

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 Batesian Mimicry Definition
  • 1:10 Background
  • 1:40 Examples
  • 3:35 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Laura Enzor

Laura has a Master's degree in Biology and is working on her PhD in Biology. She specializes in teaching Human Physiology at USC.

Batesian mimicry describes a relationship between two organisms - where one that is harmless looks almost exactly like one that is harmful. In this lesson, you'll learn about who discovered this relationship. We'll also explore examples of Batesian mimicry.

Batesian Mimicry Definition

Have you ever wondered how some animals avoid being eaten by their predators? Sometimes, animals have anti-predator adaptations that allow them to escape being eaten. One well-known anti-predator adaptation is Batesian mimicry. This describes a relationship where one organism that is harmless has evolved aposematic coloration that mimics a noxious species. A noxious species has some sort of harmful or damaging protection, and aposematic coloration is a distinctive warning marking that sets the noxious species apart and makes it easily identifiable. By imitating a harmful species, the mimic can avoid predation.

It's useful to know about Batesian mimicry for a couple of different reasons. First, if you're stuck in the wilderness and looking for something to eat, it's good to know which animals or plants could make you sick by eating them. The second, and this is probably the most important, has to do with venomous animals. There are several examples of venomous snakes that display Batesian mimicry. It's always good to know which is the harmless species and which is the species that could really hurt you!

Background

Dr. Henry Walter Bates was an English naturalist who introduced the world to the concept of mimicry. When he returned from his most famous expedition in the Amazon rainforest from 1848 to 1859, he brought back thousands of species, many of which had never been seen before. Dr. Bates discovered that some species, which he knew not to be harmful when eaten, greatly resembled some species that he knew were toxic when eaten. Thus, the concept of Batesian mimicry, named for Dr. Bates, was born.

Examples

An example of Batesian mimicry is the poisonous coral snake and the king snake, which is the mimic. Coral snakes are quite venomous, and their bite is very dangerous to humans and other animals. King snakes, on the other hand, are harmless. While they don't look exactly alike - the color patterns are slightly different - this is an example where animals steer clear of coral snakes to avoid being bitten and because the king snake has similar coloration, organisms will most likely stay away from this species as well!

Here's a simple way to tell the difference. There's an old saying: 'Red on black, friend of Jack; red on yellow, kill a fellow.' Both coral and king snakes have red, black and yellow bands. On coral snakes, the red and yellow bands are adjacent, and in king snakes, the red and black bands are adjacent. So, if you see a snake and the red and black bands are right next to each other, you aren't in any danger of a venomous bite!

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support