Published on July 10, 2009
MBS P3 Science Project 2 Animal Camouflage By: Poh Jun Kai, Nigel Class 3G
Co n t e n t s I n t r o d u c t i o n Gr o u p s o f a n i ma l Ho w d o a n i ma l s c a mo u f l a g e ? Co n c l u s i o n
Introduction • Most animals use camouflage to blend in with their environment • Some animals change colour • Some animals mimic other things • Animals that camouflaged have a much better chance of survival • They are less likely to be eaten if they are hard to find
Introduction • There are 4 types of camouflage • Concealing • Animals that use the same colouring as their environment. Eg, many animals in the Arctic have white colouring to blend in with the snow that surrounds them • Disguise • Animals that blend in with their surroundings. An insect that looks like a branch or leaf is using a costume to hide from predators. If it actually looks like the object on which it stays, then it is using disguise to fool its predators or prey. • Disruptive Coloration • Animals that break up their outline so they do not stick out. These animals have spots, stripes, or other patterns to break up its outline so it doesn't stick out against the background. Animals like zebras, leopards, and tigers use this type of camouflage • Mimicry • Pretending to be what you are not. Usually involves looking or acting like another animal that is either poisonous or bad tasting to avoid getting attacked or eaten.
Groups of animal Animals Mammals Birds Reptiles Fishes Insects Amphibians NEWT flatfish toad Click on the animal icon to learn more about how the animal camouflage
Mammals – Leopards Camouflage Method: Disruptive Coloration • Leopards are fast runners, good swimmers and excellent tree climbers. • They have spots that blend in well with the background or environment like the one shown in the picture. • Leopards are masters of camouflage and they move silently through the vegetation to attack their prey at very close quarters.
Mammals – Giraffes Camouflage Method: Disruptive Coloration • Giraffes are good at camouflage. They know how to blend into their surroundings when they feel threatened or in danger. • Their camouflage is very good at concealing them from the casual passer by, be they human or some other kind of animal. • Look at the picture on the right. Can you tell at first glance that there is a Giraffe standing in front of the tree? • Press the <Space Bar> to see where is the Giraffe.
Mammals – Lions Camouflage Method: Concealing • Lion's coats are perfect camouflage in the grassland of Savannah of Africa for sneaking up on their prey. • They will sneak up to their prey as close as they can as a group. • Some in the group will charge at their victim, while the others cut off their escape. But often they do not get close enough so they have to run them down. • Be careful! The lion is watching you now!!!
Mammals – Polar Bears Camouflage Method: Concealing • A polar bear is a big, fat, white bear that lives in the North Pole. • Most of them live where the ice that surrounds the North Pole breaks apart during the summer. • They live along northern coasts of Canada, Greenland, and the Soviet Union. • They hunt seals and other kinds of animals for food. • They have white fur which camouflage them when hunting on land because their environment is mostly white.
Mammals – Antelopes Camouflage Method: Concealing • The general coat colour of the antelope is reddish brown, with the back darker than the flanks and legs. • It is primarily active during the evening and night, sleeping the rest of the day in a shady, sheltered area. • This shy animal has excellent camouflage, which they use to their advantage. The colour of their coat blends in well with the environment. • When danger starts to approach, the antelope freezes, remaining hidden until the threat is nearly on top of them, at which point it leaps up and dodges around bushes and shrubs, quickly vanishing into the undergrowth.
Mammals – Zebras Camouflage Method: Disruptive Coloration • Did you know that every Zebra has a different pattern of stripes? • It is hard to believe, but each and every zebra has its own unique colouring. • Zebras use camouflage to trick their predators. You may think that it is easy to see zebras because their stripes are so unusual. • If you were to look across the grasslands at noon, you would be able to see a whole herd of zebras as plain as day. • When the sun starts to go down, though, their stripes blend in with the dark sky making them really hard to see. • Since lions and other predators like to do their hunting at dusk, this crazy pattern of stripes helps the zebra survive.
Birds – Owls Camouflage Method: Concealing • Most owls have feathers of the colours and even the patterns of tree bark to camouflage them. • This protects them while they sleep both from predators and from harassment by outraged prey species. • Many species of songbirds will join together to harass any owl they discover during the day. This is called mobbing. • Birds know that most owls are silent, stealthy night hunters, and not quick daylight hunters, so birds will get close to them and scold them loudly to warn other birds about the presence of a predator as well as to annoy the owl so that it will flies away to find a quieter place to sleep.
Birds – Emus Camouflage Method: Concealing • The emu is the largest bird in Australia, and the second largest in the world after the ostrich. • Emus have long necks, sharp beaks and small ears. They have two sets of eyelids, one for blinking and one to keep out the dust. Their feet are long, with three toes. One toe on each foot has a long talon, for fighting. • Emus have unusual feathers - if you look closely you can see not one but two central stems, with widely spaced "branches". • This gives the feathers a shaggy appearance, more like long hair than feathers. Because emus do not fly, they have no need for smooth, sleek feathers - theirs are for warmth and camouflage only.
Birds – Green Parrots Camouflage Method: Concealing • Some birds have bright colour feathers which is good for concealment from predators. • An example is the green parrots. Their green coloured feathers help them to camouflage themselves very well in the trees. • Let’s see how good are their camouflage skills. How many parrots can you find in the picture on the right? • Press the <Space Bar> to see the answer.
Birds – Willow Ptarmigan Camouflage Method: Concealing • The Willow Ptarmigan is a stocky northern relative of grouse and chickens. The hen ptarmigan is so well camouflaged, you might be looking right at her and never know it. • Top picture: The camouflaged Willow Ptarmigan makes the bird invisible to most predators. • Bottom picture: When a predator approaches the nest too closely, the Willow Ptarmigan burst off the nest in a flurry of feathers and begins a distraction display. This has the effect of startling the predator and diverting its attention away from the nest.
Birds – Tawny Frogmouth Camouflage Method: Concealing/Disguise • Tawny Frogmouth is an unusual name; but it's a very unusual Australian bird. Masters of camouflage, the Tawny Frogmouth blends in perfectly in bush surroundings. • Their camouflage is excellent — staying very still and upright, they look just like part of the branch. Even when possibly threatened, they'll sit very still. • Tawny Frogmouths hunt at night and spend the day roosting on a dead log or tree branch close to the tree trunk. The Tawny Frogmouth feeds on rats, mice, cicadas, beetles, frogs and other small prey. • Tawny Frogmouth pairs stay together until one of the pair dies.
Birds – American Bitterns Camouflage Method: Concealing/Mimicry • The American bittern is a medium-sized wading bird that is 23-34 inches in length with a wingspan of three feet. • It is dark brown on its uppersides and its underparts are streaked with brown, tan and white. • It has a pointed yellow bill, long legs and a black stripe on the side of its throat. Males and females look alike. • The American bitterns are masters of camouflage. Their striped plumage perfectly imitates surrounding vegetation, and they conceal themselves by freeze holding their heads and necks upward at an angle that mimics the reeds.
Reptiles – Iguanas Camouflage Method: Concealing • Iguanas are large reptiles. They are part of the lizard family. • There are many different species (kinds) of iguana, such as Green Iguanas, Fijian Banded Iguanas and Fijian Crested Iguanas. • They protect themselves from enemies using their colour to camouflage themselves. • If they are attacked on land they use their tails as a weapon. • Can you spot the iguana on the bottom picture? • Press the <Space Bar> to see the answer.
Reptiles – Geckos Camouflage Method: Concealing • Geckos are the only lizards that have a voice. Some species of geckos make a squeaking or clicking noise that sounds like "gecko," hence their name. • Most geckos are nocturnal (they are most active at night); they have large eyes and excellent vision. • Most geckos have sticky toe pads which allow them to climb well, even on smooth surfaces or upside down. • When a gecko is caught by its tail, it releases the tail, which twitches for a while, allowing the gecko to escape capture. The gecko will later grow another tail. • Geckos are incredible masters of disguise and are practically unnoticeable to the passer-by. The colour of their skin blend well with the environment. Can you spot the Gecko in the bottom picture? • Press the <Space Bar> for the gecko.
Reptiles – Snakes Camouflage Method: Concealing/Mimicry • Snakes are great at camouflaging themselves in dense vegetation. In reality just about anywhere you go in dense tropical habitats, there are many snakes around you. But how often do you actually see the snakes? • They are difficult to see because most snakes are "sit and wait" predators but also because they have great markings to help them hide from predators and prey. • Not only can snakes blend in with their environment, but they can also copy other snakes. • Some snakes pretend to be venomous snakes through their coloration (milk snakes mimic coral snakes), others mimic actions of venomous snakes (tail vibrating of rattlesnakes).
Reptiles – Tortoises Camouflage Method: Concealing/Mimicry • Tortoises to my surprised are land- dwelling reptile of the family of Testudinidae. • Generally, tortoises move very slowly on dry land and hence they must use concealment as well as mimicry to protect themselves against predators. • When tortoises move inside their shell, they use mimicry to imitate a rock. • They also use camouflage because when it mimics a rock, its shell is sometimes of distinct colour and pattern of the rock which allow them to blend into the environment. • How many tortoises can you find in the bottom picture? • Press the <Space Bar> to find out.
Reptiles – Crocodiles Camouflage Method: Concealing • Unlike most of the animals that camouflaged themselves to prevent being seen and eaten, crocodiles camouflage themselves to catch their prey using the element of surprise. • Crocodiles sit camouflaged and motionless in the water waiting for prey to come to them. • Their eyes and nostrils are high on their head so the rest of their body can be hidden under water. When prey is only a short distance away the crocodile quickly snaps its muscular jaws around the prey and drags it below the water to drown and consume it. • Wow! This is really a scary animal to get close to!
Reptiles – Chameleons Camouflage Method: Concealing • Chameleons are one of the most famous creatures for camouflage since they can change colors to match their backgrounds or surroundings. • Chameleons' mastery of camouflage goes further than anyone expected - it seems they can fine-tune their colour changes to the visual systems of specific predators. Take a look at the bottom picture and you will know what I meant. • The ability of chameleons to change colour stems from special cells called chromatophores found in the upper layers of their skin. These cells are filled with different kinds of pigment.
Fishes – Flounder Fish Camouflage Method: Concealing • Flounders are flatfish that can evolve into different sizes. They have fins across the upper parts and underneath their bodies. They resemble a flat, circular ball with fins circling around. These fish are normally brown in colour, but can acquire a variety of colours like red, orange, green and blue. • Depending on the home ground of flounder fish, they uses colours and shapes on its skin to mimic the sand and pebbles on the floor of the waters where it lives. Flounder may also cover themselves partially with the sand and gravel in order to hide more effectively. They can also change the color of their skin to match the color of the sediment. • Most species have outward-bulging eyes that move as they watch for predators or prey.
Fishes – Crabs Camouflage Method: Concealing/Disguise • A crab is a small sea creature that lives in shells and they don’t move very fast. All crabs have eight walking legs and two claws. There are many types of crab that come in many different kind of colours. • Hairy crabs’ hair helps them when they see an enemy. First, they find seaweed. Then they blend in with it. When blending in, the enemy usually doesn’t notice it is there. • Coral crabs defend themselves by using anemones. These are soft sea creatures which have stinging tentacles. To defend itself, the crab picks up the anemone and waves it in the air so that the attacker can see it. This usually makes the attacker scurry away because it doesn’t want to get stung. • The spider crab is a slow-walking scavenger. Harmless to humans and not particularly aggressive in general, the spider crab's main defence against predators is camouflage: the hook-like hairs on the crab's shell hold algae and other small debris in place.
Fishes – Octopuses Camouflage Method: Concealing • Being soft bodied (lacking an external shell or internal skeleton), octopuses make a perfect meal for predators, particularly larger fishes, sharks or seals. • Many octopuses take advantage of their lack of skeleton by squeezing themselves through tiny holes. • Octopuses have developed exceptional camouflage capacities which produce elaborate colour patterns and highly complex skin textures capable of matching a wide range of backgrounds from sand and reef rubble, through to spiked corals and seaweeds. Their skin changes almost instantaneously as they move over different substrates on the sea floor. • As a backup defence, most octopuses also have an ink sac that produces highly concentrated black, red or brown pigment to produce either a dummy decoy or, in some species, a full smoke screen that can mask a volume of water up to several cubic metres, leaving predators chasing their own tails.
Fishes – Cuttlefishes Camouflage Method: Concealing/Disguise • Cuttlefish have the ability to change colour very rapidly, making them extremely good at natural camouflage. They can change colour in less than a second. • Cuttlefish also use colour to signal emotions such as anger and fear. They will flush deep red when agitated and then change to a mottled sand colour as natural camouflage so they can disappear into the surroundings. • If natural camouflage fails, the cuttlefish shoots ink out at the attackers. The sepia ink may be produced as a mucus-bound blob or as a large cloud. • Sepia ink ejection is usually followed by a rapid colour change to confuse the pursuer. • Do you know the sepia ink was once used in printing, art and photography?
Fishes – Leaf Fishes Camouflage Method: Mimicry • The leaf fish has a thin leaf-like body. Several colour varieties exist (red, yellow, white, pink, black). • This fish is camouflaged to mimic a dead leaf/debris, both in body shape and pattern. It can also change colour to match its surroundings. When hunting, it stalks its prey in a head- down stance, appearing to drift towards it like a dead leaf drifting in the water current. In reality the fish is propelled by tiny movements of its transparent hind fins. • When it strikes at an item of prey, the entire mouth protrudes outwards, forming a tube into which the prey is sucked, usually head first. This happens so quickly it is often difficult to see. It can swallow prey almost as big as itself in this way.
Fishes – Stone Fishes Camouflage Method: Concealing/Mimicry • The stone fish is a mottled brown- greenish in colour (which gives them camouflage) with many venomous spines along its back. • The stone fish is extremely difficult to see because it usually buries most of its body under sand or rubble and only their widely separated eyes show. Often algae and hydroids grow on its back. • It is a truly amazing fish. It simply sits around rocks on coral reefs, waits for a tasty fish or shrimp to pass, then gulps it down in less than 1 second. • Unfortunately, the stonefish is the most poisonous fish in the world. The spines on their body will sting. • The spines are so strong that they will even pierce your shoe. The poison is extremely painful, causing the body to go numb, and often leading to death by heart failure.
Insects – Cicadas Camouflage Method: Concealing • Cicadas are insects with big eyes wide apart on the head and usually have transparent, well-veined wings. They usually blend in with their environment to hide away from predators. • Cicadas live in temperate to tropical climates where they are one of the most widely recognized of all insects, mainly due to their large size and remarkable acoustic talents. • Cicadas do not bite or sting, are benign to humans, and are not considered a pest. • Many people around the world regularly complement their standard diet with cicadas. Cicadas have been eaten (or are still being eaten) in Greece, China, Malaysia, Burma, Australia, Latin America and Congo. • Cicadas are employed in the traditional medicines of China and Japan for hearing- related problems.
Insects – Grasshoppers Camouflage Method: Concealing/Mimicry • There are 2 types of grasshoppers. These are short-horned grasshoppers which have short antennae and long-horned grasshoppers which have long antenna. • Grasshoppers live in most parts of the world, except very cold places. Grasshoppers have compound eyes. They usually lives in grass to hide from enemies and mimic the vegetation which they live in. • Locust is the swarming phase of short- horned grasshoppers. They are species that can breed rapidly under suitable conditions and subsequently become gregarious and migratory. They form bands as nymphs and swarms as adults—both of which can travel great distances, rapidly stripping fields and greatly damaging crops.
Insects – Mantis Camouflage Method: Concealing/Mimicry • The mantis has colour or patterns that blend in with the environment that they lived in. Some even evolved into certain shape and size so as to mimic it’s surround like the leaves so that they are extremely hard to detect. • A very common type of mantis is the Praying Mantis. Besides blending into the environment, they defend themselves against predators by standing up tall, raising its large front legs and open its wings to look as big as possible. • If that does not work the mantis either flies away quickly or it delivers a powerful punch with its hooked hand. • When the Chinese saw the Praying Mantis defending itself, they created Praying Mantis Kung Fu. It is a style of martial arts that mimics the attacks and movements of a Praying Mantis. Interesting, isn’t it?
Insects – Moth Camouflage Method: Concealing/Mimicry • Moth like most insects uses concealing method of camouflage to hide away from sharp-eyed predators like birds. • While many moths have the colour and patterns of tree bark, some moths are almost perfect match for its chosen background of a cement patio. • Depending of the environment, some moths may evolved to mimic the environment like the dead leaf moth. • Look at the Top Left picture. Do you think you can spot the dead leaf moth? • Press the <Space Bar> to find out.
Insects – Walking Stick/Leaf Insect Camouflage Method: Concealing/Mimicry • Walking sticks and Walking leaf insect come in all sorts of strange shapes and sizes. They often match their surrounding habitat, looking like sticks, tree bark or leaves. • Walking sticks and Walking leaves are mainly protected from their predators and natural enemies using plant mimicry. They can also play dead. • Can you find them in the pictures on the right? • Press the <Space Bar> to reveal them.
Insects – Butterflies Camouflage Method: Concealing/Mimicry • Butterflies use camouflage as an effective survival strategy. Butterflies that might find tasty are well camouflaged or just drab to blend in when they are resting on a tree trunk or rocky ground. • Some develop spots to frighten or distract predators like birds, Some have, "eye spots" on their wings that look like eyes of a larger animal. • Some species have bright spots near the tail that draw the predator's attention away from the head. • Many butterflies have chunks missing from their hind wings which made the predator avoid attacking the butterflies head, which would be fatal. • Brightly coloured butterflies are either poisonous or mimics of a poisonous butterfly.
Amphibians – Green Tree Frogs Camouflage Method: Concealing • The cute Green Tree Frog is one of Australia’s largest and best known frogs. • It has golden eyes with a horizontal black pupil that spans the eye ball. Their colour can vary from a bright green to an olive brown on the back with a creamy white belly. The colour can change to match the colour of its surrounds giving this frog excellent camouflage. • The Green Tree Frog has large flat finger and toe discs that help it to grip when living in trees and climbing. It often hangs on the underside of leaves trying to stay safe from predators. The feet are more webbed than the hands.
Amphibians – Dead Leaf Mimic Frogs Camouflage Method: Concealing/Mimicry • Some frogs mimic the environment that they lived in. An example is the dead leaf mimic frog. • This frog lives among the dead leaves of the forest bed. To survive and protect itself, the colour of the body blend into the dead leaves. • In addition, the frog mimic the shape, size and patterns of the dead leaf. • Can you spot the dead leaf mimic frog on the left picture? • Press the <Space Bar> to find the dead leaf frog.
Amphibians – Salamanders Camouflage Method: Concealing • Salamanders are four-legged amphibians that have a long tail and short legs. The head of a salamander is the same width as or narrower than the trunk. • The trunk has twelve to eighteen vertebrae, which are the bones that make up the spinal column, also called the backbone even though it is made up of more than one bone. • The tail of a salamander usually is about the same length as the head and body combined. • Most salamanders have camouflage colouring but it cannot change its colour like a chameleon. Some are brightly coloured while others are dull coloured. • The brightly coloured ones are poisonous or look like the poisonous ones in order to trick predators.
Amphibians – Newt Camouflage Method: Concealing • Newts are amphibians that typically inhabit forests with good access to water in hilly to mountainous regions. • They are mostly absent in forest-poor areas. They populate well in thick deciduous forests, as well as parkland and natural gardens. • Newts are characterised by a lizard- like body with four equal sized limbs and a distinct tail. • Many newts produce toxins in their skin secretions as a defence mechanism against predators. • Most newts have body colour that blend into their living environment to hide away from predators. • Do you think they look very much like the lizards?
Amphibians – Toads Camouflage Method: Concealing • Do you know all toads actually are a type of frogs? So, how do we tell the difference? • A distinction is often made between frogs and toads on the basis of their appearance. However, sometime this is not very clear also. • Many toads have leathery skin for better water retention, and a brown coloration for camouflage. • Toads camouflage well in the environment if it remains still. • Can you locate the toads in each of the pictures on the right? • Press the <Space Bar> to find them.
Amphibians – Caecilians Camouflage Method: Concealing • The least known amphibian is the caecilians. They have no limbs and are blind. They look like large worms, earthworms or smooth snakes. Nearly all species live in warm-temperate and tropical regions. • They usually hidden beneath the Caecilian ground, seldom being seen in daylight above the ground. Eyes are of little use in such a habitat, but caecilians have developed a sensitive "feeler" or tentacle which probably helps them search for worms and insects that are the main constituents of their diet. • Their skin is smooth and usually dark- matte, but some species have colourful skins. • They usually blend into the soil colour and thus making them hard to be noticed by their predators like birds.
Conclusion • Animals need camouflage to hide from predators in the wild. • Predators use camouflage to sneak up close to their preys, undetected, so they can eat them. • The most common type of camouflage is concealment whereby the colour of the animal blend into the surrounding thereby making it very difficult for their predators or preys to see them. • Camouflage is, in any case, a surviving strategy for animals and it's practiced either by the predators and by the preys, in all animal orders.
Conclusion • Even human beings camouflage themselves! • Look at the pictures on the left and bottom. Do you think you can find the soldiers in the pictures? • Press the <Space Bar> to locate them.
You can download a copy of the slides from http:// www.nigelpoh.blogspot.com
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