Dual Ant Tramp Stamps
Darwin why you so crazy?
Swarming ants, let's fly!
Here's a moth with pic of two fly maggots feeding on bird poop, complete with specular highlights. From Faux Feces Species.
I accept evolution. I didn't always but now I do, and without any of that "well, I believe in MICRO but not MACRO" or "WELL, yes, but not for humans" hedging.
That said, this kind of thing blows my mind. I can't wrap my head around how images this detailed and specific could possibly have evolved. I believe that they have but, as the image macro goes,
The image of those 'ants' has been extracted from the minds of the predators of the fly.
In there somewhere is the environmentally generated perception, which this generationally attributed reproduction most effectively triggers.
What really blows my mind is that the image would have to be effective on more than one species of predator.
I like the inking style of this evolutionary process.
Maybe its utility is a kind of territory protection, an intra-species adaptation. The image could be a reiteration of its own fears. Like a "Mom" tatoo.
I see two flies ready to attack somebody's balls...
I'm seeing the fruitfly equivalent of fingernail bling.
Now if they could just evolve this, they could pass for a 1976 Ford Econoline van.
they use them in courtship:
"A lot of flies, if a male sees a female that is suitable it just flies up and tries to latch on," said Dr Howarth. But G tridens has an altogether more amorous courtship, showing off its wings in a colourful dance. And Dr Howarth believes it is no exception.
But I guess the question remains, do the females exert some kind of influence other than selecting the most effective ants?
Not to be outdone, from my father's collection:
"I've just gone out to my study to get this picture of mine we took recently of this fruit fly that, when it backs towards jumping spiders that are stalking them, it makes the spider back off."
Nice. Here's a beetle that belongs in that set:
As an authority on Intelligent Design, I just want to bring your attention to how ridiculous you all sound. So you seriously look at this and think it must have come about incrementally? Like half an ant picture on your wing would chase away predators? I think not. This is yet more proof of God's hand. I challenge you to give any compelling alternative explanation for this fly!
I think it's compelling evidence that pareidolia, seeing concrete images in random patterns, exists in a lot of other creatures besides humans. The ancestors of this fly had Rorschach-esque patterns on their wings, and occasionally the patterns resembled ants enough that some predators were fooled. The ones that fooled the predators best reproduced the most, and over many many generations the pattern got more and more accurate until - this. Soooo freaking cool.
See my explanation above. The "it wouldn't make sense in increments" argument is less valid than people tend to think. The most common time that argument is used is for the evolution of flying. But that ignores the fact that gliding can be extremely useful. Look at "flying" squirrels which have flaps under their arms just sufficient to glide from tree to tree. They can't actually fly but, who knows, their distant descendants may end up resembling bats, and it's thanks to the evolutionary advantages of gliding. Likewise proto-birds started out as predators that leapt at their prey. Being able to glide helped them leap farther.
Similarly, there are a ton of examples in the natural world of insects whose wings have patterns that sort of resemble other bugs. Incremental cases are all around us, if you stop to look.
That picture does seem a bit too fantastical to be real. Designs in nature typically have an organic quality to them and are not reminiscent of a anatomically correct line drawing.
Glad to see flies getting some love on BoingBoing! Just wanted to point out that the fly wasn't recently discovered, it was first found & described more than 100 years ago in 1910 by the Austrian entomologist Friedrich Hendel.
Also, I'm not convinced that we aren't just seeing ants in the wings of the fly because we think they should be there. There's really no behavioural or evolutionary explanation for it in this case (even though other related species of fruit flies do use their wings to mimic predacious arthropods like jumping spiders). I've provided more info and photos on my blog - http://www.biodiversityinfocus.com/blog/2013/11/06/ants-spiders-or-wishful-thinking/
Just as a note to make things easier to find, the fruit flies are called Goniurellia tridens. You're only supposed to call them G. tridens once you make it clear that's the group you're talking about, since there are others, like the yellow shrub Genista tridens.
It's a fair point; the species isn't new, but the color variety is. I have seen the speculation that the excellent pictures of ants are really less excellent pictures of spiders elsewhere too, but you have a good review.