Camouflage

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Hooded Grasshopper (Teratodus monticollis) is camouflaged in both shape and colour
Camouflaged Ibex in the Israeli desert
Kallima inachus, the Indian leaf butterfly Shows the leaf-like appearance of the underside of the wing, visible when wings are closed. This is typical of the whole genus.
Really exceptional camouflaged frog,
almost invisible (facing right, on the upper left of the nearly-vertical stick on the rightmost third of the photo). Brazil
Frog in above photo highlighted
Typical tabby cat is dark striped on its back, head and paws, and white on its belly. That is countershading, a key means of camouflage.

Camouflage is a visual disguise. Without it, an animal would be recognised easily. If the natural colour of an animal makes it look like its surroundings, that is camouflage. A tiger's stripes in the long grass, and the battledress of a modern soldier are examples.

Camouflage is a form of deception. The word camouflage comes from the French word camoufler, which means "to disguise".[1][2]

Natural camouflage[change | change source]

In nature, most animals blend into their environment or conceal their shape. They are very hard to see. This way they survive, and if they survive, then they can reproduce. There are exceptions: animals which are dangerous to eat (e.g. wasps) advertise with warning colouration.[3]

Prey animals hide from predators. Predators must search for prey without being seen. Natural camouflage is one way to do this: an animal can blend in with its surroundings. Another way is for the animal to disguise itself as something harmless.[4][5]

Some camouflaged animals also copy movements in nature, e.g., of a leaf blowing in the wind. Other animals attach natural materials to their body for concealment. A few animals change color in changing environments. Seasonally: (many Arctic animals, such as the Arctic fox, or hare). Or quickly, like the chameleon and the cuttlefish. Some herd animals, like zebra, have a pattern which makes it difficult for the predator when they are running.

Mimicry is a special kind of camouflage, where an animal or plant looks like another, usually one which is unpleasant to eat or dangerous.

Countershading[change | change source]

Most animals are dark on top and light underneath. With light coming from above, this countershading makes them less visible.[5]

Transparency and silvering[change | change source]

Transparent or partly transparent animals are common in the pelagic layer of the sea.[6][7][8][9] These are the layers into which light penetrates. The effect of transparency or silvering works is better under water than above it. This is because the amount of light which penetrates is less and less as the depth increases. Also, the proportion of the light reflected is much less under water (0.001–0.6%) than in air (2–5%).[7]

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Harper, Douglas (2001). "Online Etymology Dictionary – Camouflage" (php). Etymonline.com. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=camouflage. Retrieved 2007-02-22.
  2. "Camouflage". Dictionary.com. Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=camouflage. Retrieved 2007-02-22.
  3. Wickler W. 1968. Mimicry in plants and animals. McGraw-Hill, New York
  4. Owen, Dennis1980. Camouflage and mimicry. Oxford.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Cott, Hugh B. 1940. Adaptive colouration in animals. Methuen, London.
  6. McFall-Ngai, Margaret J. 1990. Crypsis in the pelagic environment. American Zoologist. 30, 1 175–188.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Johnsen, Sönke 2001. Hidden in plain sight: the ecology and physiology of organismal transparency. Biological Bulletin 201, 3, 301–318. [1]
  8. Herring, Peter 2002. The biology of the deep ocean. Oxford University Press, 190–195. ISBN 9780198549567
  9. Ruxton G.D. Sherratt T.N. and Speed M.P. 2004. Chapter 4 Transparency and silvering, in Avoiding attack: the evolutionary ecology of crypsis, warning signals & mimicry. Oxford.

Further reading[change | change source]

  • Behrens, Roy R. 2002. False colors: art, design and modern camouflage. Bobolink Books. ISBN 0-9713244-0-9.
  • Forbes, Peter 2009. Dazzled and deceived: mimicry and camouflage. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-17896-8

Other websites[change | change source]

Gallery[change | change source]