Nature Page
Back Next

Camouflage and lack thereof

(or: find the animal in the picture)

The following vidcaps were taken from a series called "Abenteuer Wildnis" running on a German channel, and specifically from the five-part subseries called "Vom Alltag der Wilden Tiere" (roughly, "From the daily life of wild animals") showing film material about the same species and locations, cut up and divided among five "theme" parts, the first being "Tarnung", or, the animal's outside, which is often, and sometimes specifically not, designed to blend into the background. I liked this subseries; it lacked much of the bombastic darwinism and scientifically disguised sexism of the average nature documentary, it was narrated with the kind of wit and liveliness I associate with David Attenborough, and some of the images were, well, unusual. The following vidcaps were taken from parts one, four and five. Having heard only the German names for the species that I don't recognize and being too lazy to look up the translation in a dictionary, I won't actually add names to pictures; for a number of them, just spotting the animal will be hard enough.

A fish. (There, I said I wasn't going to look up names.)



And another fish, from two angles.


Some sea creatures are camouflaged by nature, others camouflage themselves by art. The blotchy fella is some sort of shark; the crustacean on the right is reaching backwards to place on its back an anemone that it has just plucked off the reef.


From fish to amphibians: this colourful group needs no camouflage. The skins of these tree frogs exude a lethal poison.


The first frog is duller, but still bright enough to warn predator snakes. Its neighbour has no toxins and relies on camouflage, while the third frog is practically invisible.


And here is the snake that was going to eat the leftmost frog. Next to it, a rattlesnake and a snake that likes to eat rattlesnakes - and is immune to the rattlesnake's poison.


This snake has a great life. Its German name is "Rattenschlange" ("rat snake"). Gripping the rocky walls of a bat cave, it strikes out when the inhabitants leave or enter and plucks a fresh juicy bat out of the air whenever it feels peckish.


Insects are the masters of camouflage. Here is a collection of stick and leaf insects.


And, by contrast, a bright butterfly, and a rather invisible moth-eating lizard who loves butterflies of any colour.


A single marine lizard sitting on a rock (with a crab scuttling past it) and a whole group of them.


Spot the lizard. So who said bright colours make you stand out?


The same principle, applied to the parrot family.


These bright birds have no need of camouflage, protected as they are by the biting water of the salt lake where they feed. Flamingos owe their reddish tinge to the algae that they filter from the water.


A flock of birds around the salt lake, some of which appear to eat even more algae than the flamingos do?


But some birds prefer to blend in. The ptarmigan changes its plumage to match the season.


More animals who melt into their snowy background (excuse the pun): a polar bear with cub, and a white fox.


Some mammals go well with grey, and some with green. The lemurs have lovely smoke-grey fur, while the sloth grows green algae in its coat.


Ah, big cats. A tiger, standing out and blending in.


The leopard seems one with the rough bark of the trees it basks in, while the blotches on the coat of the jaguar match the shadows of its jungle habitat.


This lioness seems to jump out from her surroundings, but if she were stalking zebra in the tall grass, it wouldn't be easy to see her coming.


The same goes for the outlines of the cheetah and her cubs, now clear-cut, now flowing into the background.


No camouflage here; I just wanted to put in some elephants. And what would an elephant have to hide from?






Back Top Next