Starting today, posting will be light for a while as I’m embarking on the Great Southern Evolution, Atheism, and Barbecue Tour. I plan to resume regular posting around February 11, but am hoping that Greg and Matthew will step into the breach.
Here’s another from the “true facts” series of videos: “True facts about leaf katydids.” The dialogue is amusing, but the photographs and videos are amazing.
Leaf katydids are, to me, the paradigm of natural selection, for they show how close selection can take an animal toward an “optimum” phenotype. It’s not often that we can see how close selection in nature has taken an animal towards “perfection,” and there are many factors preventing the attainment of that perfection: the availability of the right mutations, constraints on development that prevent perfect mimicry because those genes have other roles in the organism, and so on. And in most cases humans can’t even discern what the “optimum” really is. At least in cases of mimicry like this, we know what the optimum is (precise mimicry of a leaf to protect one from predators) and can see that those other factors haven’t been important.
Some day I’ll do a post on cases in which natural selection has taken organisms almost right to their optimum.
15 thoughts on “A katydid talks to evolution”
I had to look them up as I was unfamiliar with the name – bush-crickets to UK readers. Here’s a recent genetics article on them that is way beyond me!
The mitochondrial genome of the quiet-calling katydids, Xizicus fascipes (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae: Meconematinae)
Yang, Ming Ru ; Zhou, Zhi Jun ; Chang, Yan Lin ; Zhao, Le Hong
Journal of genetics, 2012, Vol.91(2), pp.141-53
Here are more pics of leaf mimics. Don’t miss the peacock katydid. http://conservationreport.com/2008/11/08/can-you-see-me-animal-camouflage-leaf-mimics/
Thanks for that – terrific!
Thanks for the link.
You could see it in her eyes
But imagine my surprise
When I saw you”
Steely Dan – Katy Lied album
The album cover has a big katydid on it : )
“Some day I’ll do a post on cases in which natural selection has taken organisms almost right to their optimum.”
Looking forward to that.
For future post on mimicry – the Yellow-eyed Ensatina mimicry of the California / Rough-skinned Newt is pretty damn good.
When perfect mimicry is achieved…well I guess we’ll never know.
Katydids, stick insects, many mantids, homopterans that look just like thorns…so many wonderful examples just in the Insecta!
Fun post. 🙂
Sub (And WP is the paradigm of annoying.)
Can’t wait for the sequel: “What Katydid Next”
I’ll get my coat…
New Scientist already did that pun years ago (and you know they would) when they featured an article on Australian katydids and one scientist couple studying them. As it happened, the woman was named Cathy.