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Word of the Week: Aposematism
October 25, 2018 by Jon Hayes

Aposematism (noun): the use of a distinct pattern or bold colours to warn of danger or toxicity. Some examples of aposematism are the patterns on a ladybug, monarch butterfly wings, milkweed beetles and  of course, skunks! Aposematism is useful for both the predator and prey because it avoids a confrontation that might be harmful to both parties from a strong visual signal. The word was first used in the late 19th century by Edward Bagnall Poulton in his book The Colours of Animals. The word dis from the Greek words "apo" meaning from and "sema" meaning sign.

Skunks have aposematic colouration to warn people of a serious stink. Photo by Jeff Skrentny. (cc-by-nc)
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