Official 46 Task 3

Warning Coloration

Many animals have defense mechanisms that help protect them from predators. In some cases, these animals have distinct coloring that signals predators of the presence of such defenses. This type of coloring is called warning coloration. If a predator does not recognize the meaning of this coloration and attacks, it may suffer significant discomfort or injury when its would-be prey employs its defense mechanism. As a result, the predator learns to associate the warning coloration with negative consequences, and will from that point forward avoid attacking animals that have that coloration.

Narrator: Now listen to part of a lecture in the Biology class.
Professor: We have a good example of this with the skunk.
As most of you know,
the skunk is a furry little mammal that can be found throughout North America.
Skunks have a very distinctive marking.
Their body is mostly black,
and they have a big white stripe that runs from the top of their head,
all the way down their back and along their big, bushy tail.
So they are very easy to see and very easy to recognize even from a distance.
Skunks also have special glands under their tail that produce a terrible smelling liquid.
And when skunks are approached by a predator,
they lift their tail and spray the predator with this liquid.
For example,
let's say a wolf is preparing to attack a skunk.
As the wolf approaches,
the skunk lifts its tail and sprays the wolf.
That's very, very unpleasant for the wolf,
because it's now covered with this repulsive foul smelling liquid.
The wolf doesn't want to be sprayed again,
so it backs off and leaves the skunk alone.
And from then on,
whenever that wolf sees a furry little black body with a big white stripe running from its head to its tail,
it'll recall that terrible smell,
and it'll be sure to stay far away.
Explain how the professor’s example from the lecture illustrates warning coloration.