Two movies at the top of the U.S. box office charts, "Snitch" and "Identity Thief," involve people taking on false identities. Faking out predators and prey by mimicking another specie has been a plot line in nature for millions of years.
A dangerous example of look-alike animals is the copy-cat coloration of the harmless Mexican milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum annulata, left) and highly venomous Texas coral snake (Micrurus tener, inset). The two species look similar, inhabit the same areas and even share a taste for dining on their fellow serpents. However, although the docile milk snakes are common pets, the coral snake is a relative of the cobras and injects a potent nerve venom, or neurotoxin, with its bite.
How can herpetologist avoid a deadly case of mistaken identity? Both snakes have a combination of red, black and yellow bands, but in a different order. The rhyme, "Red next to yellow, kill a fellow...red next to black, poison lack," accurately describes the difference in coloration and danger of the two species.