The origin of mimicry: deception or merely coincidence?

Bram Wiggers, Harmen de Weerd

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperOther research output


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 coevolutionary
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.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 8 Nov 2017
EventThe 29th Benelux Conference on Artificial Intelligence - Het Kasteel, Groningen, Netherlands
Duration: 8 Nov 20179 Nov 2017
Conference number: 29


ConferenceThe 29th Benelux Conference on Artificial Intelligence
Abbreviated titleBNAIC 2017
Internet address


  • agent-based modeling
  • mimicry
  • co-evolution


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