Page:Darwinism by Alfred Wallace 1889.djvu/230

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208
CHAP.
DAWINISM.

which has just that amount of irregular curvature that is seen in dry and withered leaves. The colour is very remarkable for its extreme amount of variability, from deep reddish-brown to olive or pale yellow, hardly two specimens being exactly alike, but all coming within the range of colour of leaves in various stages of decay. Still more curious is the fact that the paler wings, which imitate leaves most decayed, are usually covered with small black dots, often gathered into circular groups, and so exactly resembling the minute fungi on decaying leaves that it is hard at first to believe that the insects themselves are not attacked by some such fungus. The concealment produced by this wonderful imitation is most complete, and in Sumatra I have often seen one enter a bush and then disappear like magic. Once I was so fortunate as to see the exact spot on which the insect settled; but even then I lost sight of it for some time, and only after a persistent search discovered that it was close before my eyes.[1] Here we have a kind of imitation, which is very common in a less developed form, carried to extreme perfection, with the result that the species is very abundant over a considerable area of country.

Protective Resemblance among Marine Animals.

Among marine animals this form of protection is very common. Professor Moseley tells us that all the inhabitants of the Gulf-weed are most remarkably coloured, for purposes of protection and concealment, exactly like the weed itself. "The shrimps and crabs which swarm in the weed are of exactly the same shade of yellow as the weed, and have white markings upon their bodies to represent the patches of Membranipora. The small fish, Antennarius, is in the same way weed-colour with white spots. Even a Planarian worm, which lives in the weed, is similarly yellow-coloured, and also a mollusc, Scyllaea pelagica." The same writer tells us that "a number of little crabs found clinging to the floats of the blue-shelled mollusc, Ianthina, were all coloured of a corresponding blue for concealment."[2]

  1. Wallace's Malay Archipelago, vol. i. p. 204 (fifth edition, p. 130), with figure.
  2. Moseley's Notes by a Naturalist on the Challenger.