A Sea Slug Out of Water?

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This jewel caterpillar might look like something that belongs on the ocean floor, but it is a purely terrestrial creature. Scuba instructor and amateur wildlife photographer Gerardo Aizpuru captured these amazing photos of a lovely and strange caterpillar. Within hours of uploading them, they spread around the net and were identified as an Acraga coa larva.

The Acraga coa are part of a group of moths known as Dalceridae, all of which have gooey-looking caterpillars like the one above. While researchers still aren't sure about the benefits this adaptation offers the moth larvae, they do know that despite their often vivid coloring, most of the insects are not poisonous. The squishy, clear spikes on the outside of the creature's body might help them escape from predators though by leaving potential predators with a mouthful of sticky, foul-tasting goop.

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June 21, 2012 - 10:12pm
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