Biosemiotics 12 (1):39-55 (2019)

Biological mimicry is regarded by many as a textbook illustration of Darwin’s idea of evolution by random mutation followed by differential selection of reproductively fit specimens, resulting in gradual phenotypic change in a population. In this paper, I argue that some cases of so-called mimicry are probably merely look-a-likes and do not gain an advantage due to their similarity in appearance to something else. In cases where a similar appearance does provide a benefit, I argue that it is possible that these forms of mimicry were created in a single generation. An interpretive response to an appearance as a sign can make a new structure perform drastically differently in an environment. In such cases, Darwin’s natural selection mechanism only helps to explain gradual the spread of these new forms, not the creation of them. I argue that biosemiosis should be regarded as a much more powerful mechanism for affecting evolutionary trajectories than the gradualist view allows. I focus on two cases of butterfly mimicry: the Viceroy and Monarch butterflies, supposed Müllerian mimics, and deadleaf mimic butterflies.
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DOI 10.1007/s12304-019-09349-9
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References found in this work BETA

The Material Basis of Evolution.Richard Goldschmidt - 1941 - Philosophy of Science 8 (3):394-395.
Organisers and Genes.C. H. Waddington - 1941 - Philosophy of Science 8 (3):463-463.
The Biosemiotic Concept of the Species.Kalevi Kull - 2016 - Biosemiotics 9 (1):61-71.

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