Spines serve as a common physical defence mechanism in both the plant and animal kingdoms. Here we argue that as in plants, defensive animal spines are often conspicuous (shape and colour) and should be considered aposematic. Conspicuous spines may evolve as signals or serve as a cue for potential predators. Spine conspicuousness in animals has evolved independently across and within phyla occupying aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, indicating that this convergent phenomenon is highly adaptive. Still, many spines are cryptic, suggesting that conspicuity is not simply constrained by developmental factors such as differences in the chemical composition of the integument. Aposematism does not preclude the signalling role of conspicuous spines in the sexual arena.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics