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Thanks to Nicholas and Pranav for their suggestions which led to this episode about animals that are especially good at disguising themselves! If you'd like to listen to the original Patreon episode about animal mimics, it's unlocked and you can listen to it on your browser! Don't forget to contact me in some way (email, comment, message me on Twitter or FB, etc.) if you want to enter the book giveaway! Deadline is Oct. 31, 2020. Further watching: An octopus changing color while asleep, possibly due to her dreams Crows mobbing an owl! Baby cinereous mourner and the toxic caterpillar it's imitating: The beautiful wood nymph is a moth that looks just like bird poop when it sits on a leaf, but not when it has its wings spread: The leafy seadragon, just hanging out looking like seaweed: This pygmy owl isn't looking at you, those are false eyespots on the back of its head: Is it a ladybug? NO IT'S A COCKROACH! Prosoplecta looks just like a (bad-tasting) ladybug: The mimic octopus: A flower crab spider with lunch: Show transcript: Welcome to Strange Animals Podcast. I’m your host, Kate Shaw. This week let’s look at some masters of disguise. This is a suggestion from Nicholas, but we’ll also learn about how octopuses and other animals change colors, which is a suggestion from Pranav. Both these suggestions are really old ones, so I’m sorry I took so long to get to them. A couple of years ago we had a Patreon episode about animal mimics, so I’ll be incorporating parts of that episode into this one, but if you want to listen to the original Patreon animal mimics episode, it’s unlocked so anyone can listen to it. I’ll put a link to it in the show notes. Most animals are camouflaged to some degree so that they blend in with their surroundings, which is also called cryptic coloration. Think about sparrows as an example. Most sparrows are sort of brownish with streaks of black or white, which helps hide them in the grass and bushes where they forage. Disruptive coloration is a type of camouflage that breaks up the outlines of an animal’s body, making it hard for another animal to recognize it against the background. Many animals have black eye streaks or face masks that help hide the eyes, which in turn helps hide where their head is. But some animals take camouflage to the extreme! Let’s learn about some of these masters of disguise. We’ll start with a bird. There’s a bird that lives in parts of South America called the cinereous mourner that as an adult is a pretty ordinary-looking songbird. It’s gray with cinnamon wing bars and an orange spot on each side. It mostly lives in the tropics. In 2012, researchers in the area found a cinereous mourner nest with newly hatched chicks. The chicks were orangey-yellow with dark speckles and had long feather barbs tipped with white. While the researchers were measuring the chicks and making observations, they noticed something odd. The chicks started moving their heads back and forth slowly. If you’ve ever seen a caterpillar moving its head back and forth, you’d recognize the chicks’ movements. And, as it happens, in the same areas of South America, there’s a large toxic caterpillar that’s fluffy and orange with black and white speckles. It’s rare that a bird will mimic an insect, but mimicry in general is common in nature. We’ve talked about some animal mimics in earlier episodes, including the orchid mantis in episode 187 that looks so much like a flower that butterflies sometimes land on it…and then get eaten. Stick insects, also known as phasmids, which we talked about in episode 93, look like sticks. Sometimes the name just fits, you know? Some species of moth actually look like bird poop. Wait, what? Yes indeed, some moths look just like bird poop. The beautiful wood nymph (that’s its full name; I mean, it is beautiful, but it’s actually called the beautiful wood nymph) is a lovely little moth that...