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Study: Birds learn to avoid flashy, hard-to-catch butterflies and their lookalikes

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Florida [US], March 12 (ANI): The showy colors of some butterflies could advertise their speed and nimbleness, much like a coat of bright yellow paint on a sports car. A new study by Florida Museum of Natural History shows birds can learn to recognize these visual cues, avoiding not only butterflies they have failed to nab in the past but similar-looking species as well.
The research provides some of the strongest evidence to date for the idea of evasive mimicry, a strategy in which animals protect themselves from predators by matching the colors or patterns of agile relatives. First proposed more than 60 years ago, the hypothesis has been a challenge to test.
But in an experimental setting, researchers found that wild birds learned and remembered the wing patterns of artificial butterflies that evaded their attacks, as well as those that had a foul flavor, equally spurning both in follow-up tests and often ignoring lookalikes with similar color patterns. Unexpectedly, the birds learned to avoid evasive butterflies faster than distasteful ones.
The results suggest that being hard to catch may deter predators at least as effectively as chemical defenses.
Most research on warning coloration has focused on species with chemical defenses and those that mimic them. Monarch butterflies, for example, sport bright wing patterns of black lines on a field of orange, indicating they contain bad-tasting toxins. A predator that eats one will likely avoid both monarchs and the similar-looking viceroy butterfly in the future.
But a growing number of studies suggest a flashy exterior can mean something entirely different: that an animal is quick. Predators learn to associate these kinds of patterns with a futile chase that leaves them hungry, and species that evolve imitations of these “racing stripes” can capitalize on a defensive strategy while reinforcing the visual message.
During his Ph.D. studies, Willmott worked on the classification of a group of fast-flying tropical butterflies known as Adelpha. At first, he found them nearly impossible to identify. It seemed the genus either contained only a few species with slight variations in wing pattern or dozens of species that looked virtually the same.
The latter turned out to be the case, with more than 90 species making up the group. Like some researchers before him, Willmott began to wonder whether evasive mimicry could explain why so many species of Adelpha looked alike.
While other researchers suggested some Adelpha must have hidden chemical defenses, the explanation didn’t quite satisfy Willmott. Toxic butterflies are usually slow fliers with long wings and a propensity for playing dead when caught.
Adelpha butterflies, however, don’t display these traits, having instead a short, stout thorax and smaller, triangular wings — characteristics that enable fast, erratic flight and sharp turns.
But he wasn’t sure how to test this hypothesis until a conversation with fellow researchers at a 2018 conference in India: Johanna Mappes was an expert at developing predator-prey experiments with wild birds; Pavel Matos-Maravi was interested in the evasive behavior of skipper butterflies; and Marianne Elias and her Ph.D. student Erika Paez were eager to study what drove the evolution of wing color patterns in the genus Adelpha, including the possible effects of predators.
Simulating how evasive mimicry might play out in the wild appealed to the group. The ability of prey to escape predators’ attacks has been “virtually unstudied,” said Elias, a research group leader at the Institute of Systematics, Evolution, Biodiversity at the National Museum of Natural History in France.
Previous work had shown birds can identify the visual cues of evasive prey. Together, the team designed an experiment to test whether potential examples of evasive mimicry in Adelpha could be the result of natural selection.
At a special facility in Finland, the researchers collaborated with Janne Valkonen of the University of Jyvaskyla to capture wild blue tits, birds that would never have encountered tropical Adelpha butterflies, and train them to catch a paper butterfly with an almond treat attached to its underside.
Then, the birds were presented with a plain brown paper butterfly as a control and a paper butterfly with one of three common Adelpha wing patterns: a vertical white band on black forewings, a vertical orange band on black forewings or a combination of orange-striped forewings with white-striped hindwings.
The paper Adelpha butterfly either concealed an almond soaked in a bitter substance — a proxy for chemical defense — or evaded the bird’s attack by gliding away on a rail. The birds learned to connect a particular wing pattern with the negative experience of distastefulness or escape, eventually avoiding this butterfly and striking the control instead.
In a final test, they were given four butterflies at the same time: the plain brown butterfly and all three Adelpha butterflies, including one with the pattern they had seen before.
They strongly avoided the butterfly they had learned to associate with the bitter almond or fast flight and often avoided butterflies that shared a similar color or pattern.
Birds were 1.6 times more likely to attack the distasteful butterfly than evasive ones, perhaps because they had varying levels of tolerance for the bad-tasting almond, said Paez, who co-led the study with Valkonen. After all, even a bitter morsel of food is better than nothing.
“Bad-tasting prey could provide a nutritive meal whereas missing prey completely cannot,” she said.
While birds tend to avoid colorful prey by default, the study provides evidence of learned behavior, Willmott said. (ANI)

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I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THE PROCESS: RADHIKA APTE ON HER DIRECTORIAL DEBUT

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Mumbai: Actress Radhika Apte has donned many hats while portraying different roles for her films and now she has taken up direction too. The actress released her directorial debut ‘The Sleepwalkers’ trailer in the lockdown at Palms Spring International Short Fest which won ‘The Best Midnight Short’ award.

Making her directorial debut with the short-film titled The Sleepwalkers, the actress in a recent interview with a leading publication shared, “I had never thought of making films. There was no such plan. I just had the urge to write because sometimes you want to create content that challenges you. Roles that come your way are not necessarily from the space that you want them to come from. I just wanted to write something that interested me. There are things that I passionately want to do. When I bounced off the story to Honey Trehan and Abhishek Chaubey, they decided to make it. I had 10 days for the prep and shoot. When I finished writing, I realised I didn’t want to act in it, but I wanted to direct it. And, I absolutely loved the process.”

Fans of the actress cannot wait to witness the magic Radhika has created, this time being behind the lens. The trailer of her short-film has been showered with lot of appreciation from the audiences.

 Her performance in the recently released OK Computer was widely appreciated and she will be next seen in ‘Mrs Undercover’ playing the role of a housewife who turns Undercover agent.

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IT IS MY RESPONSIBILITY TO INSPIRE YOUNG WOMEN: SANYA MALHOTRA

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New Delhi : Bollywood actress Sanya Malhotra is garnering tremendous praise and appreciation from the audience for her recent release, ‘Pagglait’. The film shows the actress as a strong headed woman, who does not budge to societal expectations and norms and it has become a source of inspiration for many young women. 

Her diverse filmography boasts of strong woman-centric roles and characters, which is in turn a blessing for many. In a recent interview with a leading publication, Sanya revealed, “I am attracted to these characters. As an audience, I love watching such women on screen.”

She further adds, “As an actor, I think somewhere it is my responsibility to inspire young women who are watching films.”

Over the past few years, Sanya has been playing pivotal roles, from where young women can draw inspiration. And being a director’s actor, Sanya has been able to meet the expectations of the audience with her impeccable performance in movies like, ‘Badhaai Ho’, ‘Pataakha’, ‘Dangal’ and ‘Shakuntala Devi’.  Other than this, Sanya has a vast trajectory of upcoming films like ‘Meenakshi Sundereshwar’ and ‘Love Hostel’.

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LADY GAGA THANKS FANS AFTER 2013 ALBUM ‘ARTPOP’ RETURNED ON ITUNES TOP 10 CHART

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Los Angeles: American singer-actor Lady Gaga recently shared an emotional message with fans after her 2013 album ‘Artpop’ returned to the Top 10 chart on iTunes.According to Fox News, in a Change.org petition, over 40,000 fans signed an online document demanding that Interscope Records release the B-side of the ‘Artpop’ album, also called ‘Act II’ after DJ White Shadow, a producer on the album, teased she has a number of unreleased songs. Fans said they wanted to “show the Haus of Gaga that we still care about the experimental album and that chart success does not matter.”The Grammy-winning singer reacted to her album’s newfound popularity with a sweet message on Twitter.“The petition to #buyARTPOPoniTunes for a volume II has inspired such a tremendous warmth in my heart. Making this album was like heart surgery, I was desperate, in pain, and poured my heart into electronic music that slammed harder than any drug I could find,” she wrote.“I fell apart after I released this album. Thank you for celebrating something that once felt like destruction. We always believed it was ahead of its time. Years later turns out, sometimes, artists know. And so do little monsters. Paws up,” wrote Gaga.Per Fox News, when the album originally dropped, it received mixed reviews like The New York Times saying it pumped “so insistently it sometimes forgets to breathe.”Gaga also included R. Kelly in the song ‘Do What U Want’ but has since removed him and apologised for working with an alleged sexual abuser.“I’m sorry, both for my poor judgment when I was young, and for not speaking out sooner,” she said in 2019 via Twitter. 

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‘ARMY OF THE DEAD’: HUMA QURESHI’S DEBUT HOLLYWOOD FILM TRAILER OUT

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Washington: The trailer of Zack Snyder’s zombie heist film – ‘Army of the Dead’ dropped on Tuesday, and it is surely one of the most awaited films of the year.Movie buffs can finally catch a glimpse of Bollywood actor Huma Qureshi’s debut Hollywood venture. While the details of Huma’s character is still under wraps, makers have just revealed that her character is named Geeta in the film. With Dave Bautista leading the cast, the film will follow a group of men and women who come together to stage a heist at a casino in Vegas.From filmmaker Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen, Zack Snyder’s Justice League), ‘Army of the Dead’ takes place following a zombie outbreak that has left Las Vegas in ruins and walled off from the rest of the world.When Scott Ward (Dave Bautista), a former zombie war hero who is now flipping burgers on the outskirts of the town he now calls home, is approached by casino boss Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada), it is with the ultimate proposition: break into the zombie-infested quarantined zone to retrieve USD 200 million sitting in a vault beneath the strip before the city is nuked by the government in 32 hours.With little left to lose, Ward takes on the challenge, assembling a ragtag team of experts for the heist. With a ticking clock, a notoriously impenetrable vault, and a smarter, faster horde of Alpha zombies closing in, only one thing’s for certain in the greatest heist ever attempted: survivors take all.The movie that is slated to release on May 21 on Netflix stars Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Ana de la Reguera, Theo Rossi, Matthias Schweighofer, Nora Arnezeder, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tig Notaro, Raul Castillo, Huma Qureshi, Samantha Win, Michael Cassidy, Richard Cetrone, and Garret Dillahunt.

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RANVEER COLLABORATES WITH SHANKAR FOR OFFICIAL REMAKE OF TAMIL HIT ‘ANNIYAN’

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Movie buffs have a reason to rejoice! Two forces of Indian cinema – iconic director Shankar and Bollywood superstar Ranveer Singh are coming together for the remake of the filmmaker’s 2005 cult blockbuster ‘Anniyan’.This is anticipated to be one of the biggest director-actor collaborations in recent times. Shankar, known for his path-breaking, larger-than-life vision, and Ranveer, who has given India some of the most unforgettable and lovable characters on-screen, are coming together in an unprecedented creative coup. Shankar will be directing Ranveer in the official adaptation of ‘Anniyan’, which will be mounted on a gigantic cinematic canvas, proving it to be one of the biggest pan-India projects.The yet-untitled project is being interestingly announced around the auspicious time of Baisakhi in North India and Puthandu in Tamil Nadu, which marks the New Year celebrations in these respective calendars.Expressing his excitement, Shankar said, “For it to be made into a Hindi film, Anniyan needed a maverick, charismatic showman like no other to play the part. I found this in the mercurial Ranveer Singh because he is a once-in-a-generation actor who has shown us that he can immortalise a character through his stellar performance.”“I’m thrilled to make Anniyan for the pan-Indian audience and I’m confident that this powerful story will strike a chord in the hearts of all. In Dr. Gada, Ranveer and I have found an ideal producer who believes in the vision we have to change the nativity of content for audiences across the country,” he added.Blessed to have this opportunity, Ranveer acknowledged Shankar for being a true disruptor who always brings exceptional ideas to the screen. He also disclosed that he had always hoped and dreamed of collaborating with the 57-year-old ace filmmaker.“To lead a film like Anniyan is a dream come true for any artiste. Vikram Sir, one of our country’s finest talents, an artiste who I hugely admire, gave a colossal performance in the original, one that can never be matched,” Ranveer said of the upcoming project.“I can only hope that my interpretation and rendition of the part also connects with audiences in the same way. It’s undoubtedly a once-in-a-lifetime performance piece, and I am ready to give this role every single ounce of my being. Shankar Sir is a genius filmmaker and a true visionary. Words don’t do justice to just how excited I am at the prospect of being directed by him,” he added.Bringing these creative giants together for the very first time will be veteran film producer Dr Jayantilal Gada, Chairman and M.D. of Pen Studios.Speaking about the creative coup, he said, “It is an opportunity of a lifetime for us and we are thrilled to partner with the two powerhouses as producers and worldwide distributors of the film. We are confident that their collaboration will write a new chapter in the history of Indian cinema.”

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ALIA BHATT TESTS NEGATIVE FOR COVID-19, SHARES A BEAUTIFUL SUN-KISSED PICTURE

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Bollywood star Alia Bhatt on Wednesday announced that she has finally tested negative for COVID-19, after almost 15 days of home quarantine.The ‘Student of The Year’ actor took to her Instagram handle and shared an all-smiles sun-kissed picture to inform her fans about the good news. In the picture, Alia can be seen sporting a blue sweatshirt, and pink pyjamas as she poses in the garden while looking into the lens. The actor looks gorgeous in a no-makeup look with her luscious locks open.

Alia captioned the post, “the only time being negative is a good thing” and added flex muscle and dancing girl emoticons.Celebrity followers including fashion designer Ami Patel and more than 1 lakh fans liked the post, while many congratulated the actor on winning the battle against the novel coronavirus.The second wave of coronavirus has infected a lot of people and the number of COVID-19 positive cases has been rapidly rising. In Bollywood, an array of celebrities like Ranbir Kapoor, Akshay Kumar, Aditya Narayan, Kartik Aaryan, and Aamir Khan among others have got infected within a span of a few weeks.On the work front, Alia, who was last seen in the 2020 film ‘Sadak 2’, will be next seen in Ayan Mukherji’s directorial ‘Brahmastra’, alongside rumoured beau Ranbir Kapoor and megastar Amitabh Bachchan.Produced under Karan Johar’s banner of Dharma Productions, the superhero movie will also feature Nagarjuna and Dimple Kapadia in pivotal roles.She also has Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Gangubai Kathiawali’, SS Rajamouli’s magnum opus ‘RRR’, and Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Darlings’ in the pipeline. 

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