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18 October 2010

Monday's Word: Aposematic

 This cute little creature is the subject of Michael Quinion's ' 'Weird Words' this week. Sadly this gorgeously colored little frog is now quite rare, having been another victim of the 'pet trade'. Michael says:

"I came across the word in an article about Bristol Zoo, which has
set up an amphibian sanctuary to breed two endangered species. One
of them is the golden mantella frog native to Madagascar, which is
a brilliant golden-orange. The colours are aposematic, referring to
the bright markings or hues exhibited by some living creatures to
warn predators that they are poisonous. (The frog cheats: it isn't toxic but the colours fool its enemies into thinking it is. Some writers restrict "aposematic" to such false warnings.)

Though this is common enough in the biological sciences, it's notoften encountered elsewhere..."

Well, this is the opposite to the 'wolf in sheep's clothing' which is fairly common in literature.  As most of you know, I write futuristic and fantasy romance, and in my first book 'Starquest' I had a  race of  huge sea creatures known as the 'Gru' which although ferocious to look at, were actually very peaceful and gentle - I didn't realise at the time that I was writing about something that was 'aposematic'.  Another word to add to my writer's dictionary!

*World Wide Words is copyright (c) Michael Quinion 2010. All rights reserved. The Words Web site is at http://www.worldwidewds.
Reproduced with permission