Thistle-down velvet ants in the Desert Mimicry Ring and the evolution of white coloration: Müllerian mimicry, camouflage, and thermal ecology

Joseph Wilson, Jeni Sidwell, Matthew Forister, Kevin Williams & James Pitts
Adaptive coloration among animals is one of the most recognizable outcomes of natural selection. Here we investigate evolutionary drivers of white coloration in velvet ants (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae), which has previously been considered camouflage with the fruit of creosote bush. Our analyses indicate instead that velvet ants evolved white coloration millions of years before creosote bush was widespread in North America’s hot deserts. Furthermore, velvet ants and the creosote fruit exhibit different spectral reflectance patterns, which...
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