Friday, October 27, 2006


Repeating Patterns of Mimicry (PLoS Biology)

Fascination with flora and fauna usually starts early in life as an all-encompassing childhood pastime. Growing up in Germany in the 1960s and 1970s, I developed an affinity for natural history as a child, inspired by famous television naturalists, such as Jacques Cousteau and Bernhard Grzimek, as well as by role models closer to home. As a child, it seemed quite natural to observe, experiment with, and collect all kinds of animals, dead or alive, and their parts (beetles, butterflies, fish, amphibians, antlers, and skulls) for my private "Wunderkammer," or cabinet of curiosities.

Literature Nobel laureate Vladimir Nabokov (bio), probably most famous for his notorious novel Lolita (Amazon UK | US), was also a distinguished lepidopterist who specialized in the systematics of the butterfly family Lycaenidae. Nabokov's obsession with butterflies also started early in life and arguably influenced his thinking and writing for the rest of it. He published numerous scholarly papers in recognized entomology journals, mostly on species from Europe and North America, and he was inordinately proud that a species of butterfly (Cyllopsis pyracmon nabokovi) was named after him. Nabokov was particularly fascinated by the mapping of spots on butterfly wings.

Continued at "PLoS Biology: Repeating Patterns of Mimicry"

Featured book: "Avoiding Attack: The Evolutionary Ecology of Crypsis, Warning Signals and Mimicry" (Amazon UK | US)

Books on Mimicry from the Science and Evolution Bookshop: UK | US

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