Cryptic camouflage

Have you ever wondered why critters sometimes have stripes, spots or other unusual patterns? Or perhaps you’ve noticed how well mountain lions blend into their surroundings, much like the lion pictured in the photo above. Unlike hunters, who can purchase special clothing to hide them from their quarry, wild animals have had to evolve unique cryptic coloration, or camouflage, to aid in survival.

If you’ve spent any time in the great outdoors, you’ve almost surely heard the call of an owl or the rattle of a snake, without even being able to see the animal. Why is that? They’re camouflage allows them to hide from their prey, giving them the opportunity to secure dinner or to hide from other predators.

There are many variations of cryptic coloration throughout the animal kingdom. With wildlife, one size does not fit all. Mimicry is a form of camouflage where one animal looks similar to another. In many cases, these animals mimic venomous or poisonous animals as a defense mechanism from predators. Animals may also evolve patterns to camouflage their appearance and blend into their habitat. Patterns can be as complex as matching the bark or a tree or the veins and color of a leaf. Disruptive coloration can cause a predator to misidentify its target. Have you ever seen a butterfly that looks like it has eyes on its wings? What kind of camouflage do you think that might be?

The next time you’re out hiking and you come across a camouflaged critter, think about how it’s coloration may help it survive in the wild!

Denise Peterson

Leave a Reply Text

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *