Today we learned about a new twig-like caterpillar recently discovered in the Peruvian Amazon that has an awesome behavioral trait we sort of wish we shared. When startled by the vibrations of suddens sounds, four coiled tentacles spring outwardly from its body.
Imagine if you could do this when someone catches you by surprise:
Entomologists are speculating about the purpose of these springy tentacles. They’re thought to be used for self-defense, but it’s not yet clear how they actually deter predators or parasite.
One possibility is that the tentacles’ white tips direct attention away from the main body of the caterpillar, says Andrei Sourakov, collections coordinator at the Florida Museum of Natural History. He has observed something similar in adult hairstreak butterflies.
Head over to National Geographic to learn more about these tentacular caterpillars.