Butterfly Mimicry

Why do these caterpillars look so strange?

Researchers Daniel Janzen and Willie Hallwachs have spent years collecting various species of butterflies and their caterpillars. They explain: "We are driven to find and describe our planet's unrecognized biodiversity because it is disappearing before our eyes." Less than two-thirds of the estimated 250,000 species of butterflies on earth have been identified. Drs. Janzen and Hallwachs have discovered hundreds of species that display false eye and false face patterns to avoid being eaten by predators.

Professor Daniel Janzen is an evolutionary ecologist, naturalist, conservationist, and Kyoto Prize Laureate. He is the Thomas G. and Louise E. DiMaura Professor of Biology at the University of Pennsylvania. For 56 years he has spent much of his time doing field research in Costa Rica and since 1985 has been a founder and technical advisor to Area de Conservacion Guanacaste (ACG).

Janzen, with Paul Hebert, Erin Penton, John Burns, and Winnie Hallwachs published their research on Astraptes Fulgerator in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.