neotropical

3

The deceptive and tricky Ant-mimicking Crab-spider

There is no doubt that certain species of spiders are quite deceptive and tricky. This is the case of Aphantochilus rogersi (top photo), a neotropical carb-spider in the Thomisidae Family, that convincingly mimics its prey, the turtle ant Cephalotes atratus (middle and bottom photos) or also Zacryptocerus pusillus.

These spiders do not just mimic the appearance of the ant, but also oviposit in close proximity to nests of the model ant. As if that were not enough, Aphantochilus rogersi also has an specialized hunting behavior, this spider uses the bitten and paralyzed ant as a shield, presumably protecting it from attacks by living ants.

So, just in case, the next time you see an ant …. You better count how many legs it has. 

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: [Top: ©Pablo Sebastián Padrón | Locality: Pastaza, Ecuador] - [Middle: ©Ricardo Solar | Locality; unknown]  -  [Bottom: ©Ana Jaramillo | Locality: Riomanso Natural Reserve, Colombia]

Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer (Chalybura urochrysia) in Costa Rica. by Juan Carlos Vindas www.juancarlosvindasphoto.com on Flickr.

Memphis moruus coerulescens | ©Rodrigo Conte   (Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil)

Memphis moruus (Nymphalidae) is a Neotropical butterfly commonly named Hoja Azul and Mariposa Hojarasca (in Spanish), because the undersides of the wings closely resemble dead leaves. The upper side of the wings are blue with darker spots. 

This butterfly inhabits the Subtropical forests. They are found in Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and parts of South America such as Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, and Colombia.

Chestnut-Mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii) by bayucca (busy) on Flickr.

Costa Rica

2

Laughing Falcon - Herpetotheres cachinnans

Herpetotheres cachinnans (Falconiformes - Falconidae) is a Neotropical raptor and the only member of its genus. It occurs in southern Mexico, eastern Bolivia, Brazil, northern Argentina and Paraguay. This species typically has a large creamy yellow or whitish head with black coloring around its large owl-sized eyes creating what looks like a mask. Adults are 40 to 47 cm in length and have wingspans of 25 to 31 cm. Their most distinguishable behavior is the “laughing” call. They call in duets with the opposite sex for several minutes producing loud sounds that resemble laughter, hence their common name.

A common belief, which dates from the 18th century, is that the Laughing Falcon is an ominous bird because of its cry (call), and some Brazilian rural dwellers in Brazil say that when it sings at dusk it is about to take the soul of the ill ones.

Laughing Falcons feed on lizards, birds, insects and rodents, and are considered efficient hunters of both harmless and poisonous snakes.

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credits: [Top: ©Marcus Vinicius Lameiras | Locality: captive - São Cristóvão, Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, 2012] - [Bottom: ©Joao Quental | Locality: not indicated, 2006]

2

King Vulture - Sarcoramphus papa

The King Vulture, Sarcoramphus papa (Falconiformes - Cathartidae), is a species of vulture found in the southern part of Mexico and throughout Central and South America to northern Argentina.

The most noticeable difference between king vultures and other vultures is that they are largely covered with white plumage. King vultures are large birds, their wingspan can reach up 1.98 m. Their bare head, neck, beak and muttle are red, orange and yellow, with very striking eyes that are straw, white or silver in color. Their beaks have a hooked tip and cutting edges, which are very strong. There are no differences between the males and females of this species.

Reference: [1]

Photo credits: [Top: ©Ricardo Bevilaqua | Locality: Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, 2009] - [Bottom: ©Joao Quental | Locality: Jeremoabo, Bahia, Brazil, 2014]