Not what the textbook said: Did the eyespots of butterflies and moths evolve to deter predators?
For two hundred years, scientists have believed that the eyespots of butterflies and moths evolved to look like large eyes in order to frighten off predators. A bird might think that the bright eyespots are the eyes of a concealed cat, for example.
It sounds logical, but there is a hidden assumption: We are assuming that a predator such as a bird pays attention to the same features that we would.. But does it?
Cambridge behavioral ecologist Martin Stevens and his team decided to test the longstanding assumption:
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