How Snakes, Spiders, and Other Predators Fool Their Prey
When animals in the wild get duped, it could be deadly.
These days, misinformation is a term that’s wildly thrown around. But in the actual wild, misleading communication techniques are means to meals for many species.
“It’s a form of deception that we call aggressive mimicry,” says Fiona Cross, a zoologist at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand.
In other words, an animal pretends to be another animal to dupe and lure prey close enough for chomping. (Find the animal mimics in this National Geographic interactive.)
“The animal sends out a signal that is beneficial to the sender but disadvantageous to the receiver,” explains Cross, a former psychologist who's fascinated with the way hunters “play mind games with prey.”
Take the South African puff adder Bitis arietans, which