Deceived by stripes: Conspicuous patterning on vital anterior body parts can redirect predatory strikes to expendable posterior organs

Gopal Murali, Ullasa Kodandaramaiah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

Conspicuous coloration, which presumably makes prey more visible to predators, has intrigued researchers for long. Contrastingly coloured, conspicuous striped patterns are common among lizards and other animals, but their function is not well known. We propose and test a novel hypothesis, the ‘redirection hypothesis’, wherein longitudinal striped patterns, such as those found on the anterior body parts of most lacertilians, redirect attacks away from themselves during motion towards less vulnerable posterior parts, for example, the autotomous tail. In experiments employing human ‘predators’ attacking virtual prey on a touchscreen, we show that longitudinal striped patterns on the anterior half of prey decreased attacks to the anterior and increased attacks to the posterior. The position of stripes mattered—they worked best when they were at the anterior. By employing an adaptive psychophysical procedure, we show that prey with striped patterning are perceived tomove slower, offering amechanistic explanation for the redirective effect. In summary, our results suggest that the presence of stripes on the body (i.e. head and trunk) of lizards in combination with caudal autotomy can work as an effective anti-predator strategy during motion.

Original languageEnglish
Article number160057
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Volume3
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 8 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Deflection
  • Lacertilians
  • Motion dazzle
  • Motion perception
  • Redirection hypothesis
  • Stripes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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