Tuesday, February 10, 2009

predatory behavior and the goal of an easy meal

I have visited the subjects of apex predators (in 2005), camouflage, and competition in the past. Here I've edited a selection of material from Wikipedia on the subject of hunting, which I believe can be very instructive when considering efficient goal pursuit:

The act of predation can be broken down into a maximum of four stages: Detection of prey, attack, capture and finally consumption. Optimal foraging theory states that all organisms, including predators, will act in such a way as to maximize their energy intake per unit time. In other words, they behave in such a way as to find, capture and consume food containing the most calories while expending the least amount of time and energy possible in doing so.

Predators may hunt actively for prey, or sit and wait for prey to approach within striking distance. Ambush predators or sit-and-wait predators are carnivorous animals that capture prey by stealth or cunning, not by speed or necessarily by strength. These organisms usually hide motionless and wait for prey to come within striking distance. They are often camouflaged, and may be solitary. Camouflage, a form of crypsis, involves concealment and obscurity; it is not limited to the commonly encountered visual camouflage of color, shape, and pattern, but encompasses other senses as well to deceive the observer into making a false judgment about the camouflaged object. Predators may also use mimicry to lure, traps or tools to catch, and complex weaponry to subdue and kill their prey.

In much of the world, humans are the largest, best-organized, most cunning, and most powerful predators. Nonetheless, broadly speaking, optimal foraging theory should still be capable of describing their behavior as well.

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