I first became interested in mimicry over 25 years ago when I was editing natural history encyclopaedias. The most interesting creatures seemed to be those that were trying to be something else – butterflies like leaves, plants like stones, alligators with little wriggly worms as a lure inside their gaping mouths. I started to see mimicry everywhere and developed the theory that the sperm whale’s impossibly slender lower jaw was a mimic of the tentacles of the giant squid it fed on. The squid were lured by this appendage and were no match for the leviathan.
I published the article in New Scientist and Heathcoat Williams later republished it in his book Whale Nation. The cetologists have kept mum on the subject to this day. In that Horse Mouth mood after the prize, I was idly googling when the sperm whale jaw article popped up, in facsimile. New Scientist’s archive has been digitized and is available, free, online in this evocative form, ,mimic the print issue. I was able to read again all my early efforts which eventually led to Dazzled and Deceived. That’s self satisfaction – even if it did take two and half decades.