Museum data sheds light on coral snakes and their mimics

A U-M led team of herpetologists has just published a pair of papers dealing with the evolution of warning coloration and mimicry in New World snakes. The first is published in Nature Communications and deals with the evolutionary dynamics of coral snake-like coloration (red-and-black banding) in both space and time. The University of Michigan released a really nice multimedia feature on this paper, which includes some great video footage from our recent UMMZ Herpetology expedition to the Peruvian Amazon. One of my favorite subclips from the accompanying video comes at 1:55, where you can see some footage we shot of a harmless litter-dwelling snake (Atractus elaps) doing a spectacular imitation of a coral snake defensive display (see below). This display was quite convincing and inspired a considerable level of caution among our group of professional herpetologists!

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