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

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Channel: Deep Look
Categories: Biology   |   Environmental   |   Science  
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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.

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Theres that old cheesy joke: Whats brown and sticky? A stick.

But sometimes its not just a stick but a walking stick. This non-native insect, originally from India, relies on clever camouflage to hide from predators. Theyre so skilled at remaining undercover, you may not have noticed that theyve 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."

--- Are there male Indian walking sticks?
Theres been no observable males, most likely due to the fact females are parthenogenic and dont need a male to mate. They can just keep laying eggs without sexual fertilization and create hundreds of female offspring, which drastically alters the ratio of males to females.

--- Are there any walking stick species with males?
If the breeding conditions are right, males occur more frequently in the following three species: Australian stick insects (Extatosoma tiaratum), Jungle nymphs (Heteropteryx dilatata) and a species from Madagascar (Achrioptera fallax).

--- What are some of the pros and cons of parthenogenic reproduction?
Females can spend more time and energy looking for food and shelter instead of a mate, and they can reproduce faster and thus have a larger population size compared to species that require sexual reproduction. But they can have a lack of genetic variation since they dont pass genes from separate individuals, and asexual reproduction may not be able to remove harmful mutations that could arise in the genome.

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Congratulations to the following fans on our Deep Look Community Tab for coming up with the best names - as decided by fellow Deep Peeps - for a sweet walking stick dance move:

Omar J Playz
"Getting Sticky With It"

Skyman 58
"The Wooden Wobble"

Akasaka Ryuuwai
"My tall friend at the club"

Jordi Folland
"Twiggle Wiggle"

"Incognito chopsticks"

AND an honorable mention goes to:

"the corono-dance (considering how they are keeping the distance) - A PSA by Deep look"

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