From Real Monstrosities via Ed Yong via Matthew Cobb comes one of the best cases of mimicry I’ve ever seen. Natural selection has been a fantastic artist here, giving a perfect illusion of three-dimensionality. In fact, this may be the most astonishing case of mimicry I know.
It’s a moth from eastern Asia: Uropyia meticulodina—a fantastic dead-leaf mimic:
As the RM site notes:
It’s not just brown like a dead leaf, it’s brown like a curled up, dead leaf.
And it’s not just brown like a curled up, dead leaf, it depicts a leaf catching the light, with shadows in all the right places and you can even see the veins casting tiny shadows along the curled underside. It’s like one of those optical illusions that still work even when you know it’s a trick.
Here are two videos of the beast. The most amazing part of this illusion, which you’ll see below, is that the wings aren’t curled at all—they’re flat!
In slow motion:
It’s all done with color and shading: nature’s smoke and mirrors.