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It’s possible that the wing patterns together are serving as a false-head (as suggested to me by Richard Jones on Twitter), and thus tricking predators into attacking the wing tips first (which would still be bad for the fly’s ability to fly) or into attacking the false-head from “behind”, thus putting them squarely in front of the true head and easily watched and avoided by the fly. This strikes me as a pretty reasonable argument, but why might there be so much variation in wing patterns if species are using them as a false head?
reply to post by SonOfTheLawOfOne
Nature never ceases to amaze me. So did this fly just evolve or something? How does the DNA know to do this is just beyond me.
Maybe it's not a defense system against an aggression, but one to allow the fly to mix with ants to collect some food, without being attacked?
A kind of situational "passe-partout".
On first thought, wow DNA is ...thinking. Then again there's the possibly that the wing patterns remained hereditary as more of the fruit flies that were not eaten or attacked with a certain pattern each one stronger than the next resembling an ant. With that would have more to do with what the predator is seeing as opposed to DNA engineering(?) the pattern. Or that it would be as mentioned in the OP article, mating preference.edit on 13-11-2013 by dreamingawake because: correction
This stellate (star-like) wing pattern is very common among flies in the Tephritinae, the subfamily of fruit flies this species belongs to, although the specifics differ between species and genera. Here are the wing patterns of the other Goniurellia species (found across the Mediterranean, Middle East, Africa and Asia).
When you consider the entire species, it's not that unique. It's neat still, but it's just how winged insects have evolved.
I agree that this is the only method that makes sense, knowing what we do about evolution. It is still astounding, as it must start from a "clean slate", and uses attrition over long periods of time to develop the legible images.