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Walking Sticks Stop, Drop and Clone to Survive | Deep Look Video

November 4, 2020

Indian walking sticks are more than just twig impersonators. They even clone themselves into a surprising variety of colors to stay hidden in plain sight from predators.

There’s that old cheesy joke: What’s brown and sticky? A stick.

But sometimes it’s not just a stick — but a walking stick. This non-native insect, originally from India, relies on clever camouflage to hide from predators. They’re so skilled at remaining undercover, you may not have noticed that they’ve made themselves right at home in your local park. Some Bay Area researchers are studying the insects’ genetics to learn more about how they are such masters of camouflage.

“I can’t think of any other insect as effective as they are in remaining hidden in plain sight,” said Edward Ramirez, an undergraduate researcher at the University of California, Berkeley who is currently studying the genetics of Indian walking sticks.

“How is this possible? was always the question that came to mind, so I wanted to search for a more clear answer.”

This is another installment of the PBS Deep Look series. If no film or link appears in this email, go to the blog to view it by clicking on the blog title above. If the film stops & starts in an annoying manner, press pause (lower left double bars ||) to let it buffer and get ahead of you.   [Chuck Almdale]

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