Page last updated at 13:25 GMT, Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Butterfly rivals unite to survive

Napeogenes inachia (Pic: Keith Willmott)
Scientists have discovered evidence of rival butterfly species living beside each other to survive

Rival species of butterfly have been discovered living in harmony.

Edinburgh University scientists have found rivals living beside each other to survive in the Amazon jungle.

Different species naturally fight over food, but the rivals have evolved to live in the same place to maximise the benefits of their similar appearance.

The experts say their behaviour contradicts the view that competition between species is the most important factor in influencing their behaviour.

Scientists said it shows other issues, such as protection from predators, can play a more important role.

The study, carried out in collaboration with Cambridge University, Wyoming University and the Florida Museum of Natural History, was published in the journal PloS Biology.

Marianne Elias, of Edinburgh University's school of biological sciences, led the research.

She said: "We knew that unrelated animals often develop a similar appearance to reinforce the warning to other animals not to eat them, but until now we didn't know that they would live alongside each other, reinforcing this message to predators to stay away."

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