The Origin of Mimicry

Deception or Merely Coincidence?
  • Bram WiggersEmail author
  • Harmen de Weerd
Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 823)


One of the most remarkable phenomena in nature is mimicry, in which one species (the mimic) evolves to imitate the phenotype of another species (the model). Several reasons for the origin of mimicry have been proposed, but no definitive conclusion has been found yet. In this paper, we test several of these hypotheses through an agent based co-evolutionary model. In particular, we consider two possible alternatives: (1) Deception, in which mimics evolve to imitate the phenotype of models that predators avoid to eat, and (2) Coincidence, in which models evolve a warning color to avoid predation, which coincidentally benefits the mimics. Our agent-based simulation shows that both these hypotheses are plausible origins for mimicry, but also that once a mimicry situation has been established through coincidence, mimics will take advantage of the possibility for deception as well.


Coincidence Hypothesis Toxic Populations Deception Hypothesis Model Animals Batesian Mimicry 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Artificial IntelligenceUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Professorship User Centered DesignHanze University of Applied SciencesGroningenThe Netherlands

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