You all like to watch movies, right?. I hope you might have seen the movie ‘Uri’. Do you remember how Vicky Kaushal killed enemies in this particular movie ‘Uri’? How did his team invade the territory of the enemies? Can you name the technique behind it? How do they hide in the forest area?
Fig: Soldiers with their camouflage uniform inside the forest
Yes, you are correct, the technique that was used in that particular scene in the ‘Uri’ movie is camouflage. It is a blending technique in which the physical appearance of a person or animal blends with their surroundings.
Have you ever seen a chameleon in your surroundings? Can you tell me what is so special about it? We commonly know the chameleon as an organism that keeps changing its colour according to the environment. Yes, this phenomenon is naturally occurring in some animals and is also called camouflage. They blend in with their surrounding environment in order to escape from predators. There are some animals like lions that also show camouflage at the time of hunting. Now let’s take a deep dive into the details of camouflage in this article.
Table of contents
The ability of organisms to merge with their surroundings is known as camouflage. It is also known as cryptic colouration, because most of the time the colour of the organism will blend with their background.
The following are some of the importance of camouflaging:
There are different examples of camouflaging that exist in nature. Some of these examples are discussed below:
Chameleons are the best examples of camouflaging. The outer layer of their skin has different pigments that are present underneath. They change their colours in response to various factors, such as temperature, anger, etc. To regulate their body temperature to the environment also they typically change colour. This trait is helpful for protecting them from predators too.
Fig: Camouflage shown by chameleon
Hairs in animals help to keep themselves warm and shielded from the outside world. The pattern of the animal’s hair and the coat colour assist them to blend with the environment too. Animals can mimic their environment and hide by using their hair coats, which have a similar colour to their surroundings. The lion has a brown coat that blends well with its arid surroundings and hides it while it hunts. Arctic lions can effectively conceal themselves behind the snow and icebergs because of their white fur coats.
Fig: Camouflage shown by lion
Mouse also has brown hair, which allows them to blend in with the dried brown leaves on the forest floor. The mouse developed a system of camouflage that allowed them to integrate into their environment. This includes incorporating lighter coats, modifications to the tail stripes, and changes to body pigments.
Fig: Camouflage shown by mouse
There are two strains of peppered moth, light-colored (Biston betularia) and dark-colored (Biston carbonaria). Before industrialisation, the pollution was less and therefore, the bark of the tree was appearing light-colored as it was covered with lichens. At that time, nature favoured the light-colored moths and due to this, they evolved exponentially.
Fig: Population of moths before industrialisation
Industrialisation is the main reason for the production of smoke and soot that accumulates on the bark of the trees and as a result, the trees become dark-colored. Lichens are sensitive to pollution and they disappeared too. At that point, nature favoured the dark-coloured moth and they evolved exponentially. As a result, the population of light-coloured moths decreased because they can be easily spotted and killed by their predators.
Fig: Moth population during industrialisation
The camouflaging is of various types. Some of them are listed below:
It is one of the most common techniques used by animals to hide. In this method of camouflaging the colour of the animal is the same colour of its natural habitat or background. For example, animals that live in forests are primarily brown, while those that live in the tundra and the Arctic are white. Here, an animal hides against a background of the same colour to avoid being eaten by predators and to look for prey.
Examples of concealing colouration are given below:
Few animals can alter their body colour to hide from their prey, like the snowshoe hare, which is only found in North American locations. These animals typically have white fur in the winter, which they shed in the summer to reveal brown fur.
Another example of concealing colouration is that of chameleons. They change their colour according to their surrounding environments. This helps them to hide and reflect on their mood.
Fig: Camouflage shown by chameleon
Octopus is one of the other examples that change their colour as well as skin texture. Octopuses can control their muscles under the skin so that it can make it look bumpy or smooth. If an octopus is present near a bumpy plant to blend in a better way, it will change its skin to match the bumpiness of the plant.
Fig: Camouflage in octopus
Grasshoppers such as Cicadella viridis which are green can blend with the leaves they feed, so that they will not get eaten by their predators.
Fig: Camouflage in grasshopper
In this type of camouflage, the high-contrast patterns obscure internal features or break up the outline of the animal. For example, the skin of the animals are covered with dark spots or stripes that help them to camouflage. These stripes and spots help to escape them from their predators too.
Examples of disrupting colouration are given below:
A common example of disruptive coloration is a group of zebras that together looks like a large mass to their predator, the lion. As a result, it becomes hard for their predator to attack them.
Another example of disruptive colouration is predators like leopards and tigers that have disruptive coloration that makes it easier for them to move or hide between the trees before attacking their prey.
Fig: Camouflage in leopard
In this type of camouflaging, an animal takes on the appearance of something else in its environment. This occurs due to alteration in the appearance or colour occurs due to which the organism gets blended with the environment with respect to colour, texture, and shape. Most insects, including spiders, leaf butterflies, dragonfly, katydids, stick bugs, and stick insects, use this sort of camouflage.
Fig: Disguise shown by caterpillar
Examples of disguise are given below:
There is a butterfly called leaf wing butterfly or Charaxinae which looks like dry leaves. Here the wings of the butterfly can mimic even the veins of the leaves, so that they will not get eaten by their predators.
Fig: Disguise in leaf wing butterfly
An owl butterfly or Caligo eurilochus resembles the eye of an owl. In this way they send their predators away.
Fig: Disguise in owl butterfly
Stick insects or Phasmatodea are those which have long and slender bodies. So that they can mimic branches and twigs which are their usual habitats. In this way they escape from their predators.
Fig: Disguise in stick insect
The family Phylliidae of the Kingdom Animalia possess leaf insects or walking leaves. They resemble fresh leaves. Here the wings of the insects can mimic even the veins of the leaves. In this way they hide from their predators.
Fig: Disguise in leaf insect
Sometimes animals and insects use the things available in their habitat or environment to blend with nature. For example, in the below given image a frog uses the weed available in its habitat for self decoration.
Fig: Self decoration in frogs
It is a technique used to imitate other creatures or things in order to keep them safe. It can occur in various characteristics, such as appearance or behaviour, sound, or odour. Examples include Viceroy butterflies. They imitate monarch butterflies in order to protect them from predators such as birds, because monarch butterflies are venomous and birds never attack them.
Fig: Monarch butterfly
Many species have some resemblance to some other species. The species showing resemblance is called the mimic and the other species is called the model. So the resemblance of two species can protect the mimic from their predators. There are two major types of mimicry seen in the animals. They are listed below:
It is named after the English naturalist Henry Bates. In Batesian mimicry, the model is an unpalatable species (not pleasant to taste) and the mimic is a palatable species. Through mimicking the colour of the model, the predators will not come for the mimic, expecting the same taste of the model.
There is a non venomous scarlet king snake which can mimic the venomous coral snake. Since both the snakes show the same pattern on their body, the scarlet king snake gets protection from their predators.
Fig: Scarlet snake mimicking the coral snake in pattern
The name Mullerian came from the name of a German biologist, Fritz Müller. In this type of mimicry, many poisonous species converge to look the same, advertising their distasteful design.
So that the predators will not eat the species with particular colour, thinking that they are toxic.
The black and yellow striped bands found on many different species of bees and wasps are one of the examples of Mullerian mimicry.
Fig: Bee and wasp
Solution: The phenomena of illumination or colouration that causes an organism to blend into its surroundings or make it challenging to identify is known as camouflage. Typically, this phenomenon is employed to deceive the predator about the existence of its prey. It is also used by predators at the time of hunting. Hence, the correct option is b.
2. How do animals use camouflage?
Answer: An animal can more easily blend into its surroundings because of its colour, shape, or texture. The body of some animals contains some specialised cells (chromatophores) that assist them in rearranging the pigment molecules that alter the colour pattern of their skin.
3. Identify the correct statement with respect to the camouflage.
Solution: The phenomena of illumination or coloration that causes an organism to blend into its surroundings or make it challenging to identify is known as camouflage. Typically, this phenomenon is employed to deceive the predator about the existence of its prey. It is one of the natural defence strategies used by organisms. The prey may change its colour, release chemicals, sounds, vibrations, or other strange behaviours to blend in with its surroundings or to trick or intimidate the predator. This allows greater chance of reproduction as the mature animals escaped from predators are available for reproduction. Hence, the correct option is d.
4. Which is the most important factor for camouflage?
Solution: The environment of an animal is the most important factor for camouflage. This is because camouflaging is a phenomenon of illumination or colouration that causes an organism to blend into its surroundings or make it challenging to identify. Hence, the correct option is b.
Answer: The camouflage in animals was discovered by the zoologist, Sir Edward Poulton in 1890.
Answer: The use of any material, colour, or lighting combination for hiding so that it will make animals or things difficult to notice or disguise them as something else, is known as camouflage. When fighting for survival, camouflage is used to get near to the enemy in order to overwhelm it or to trick the enemy utilising camouflage and camouflage principles. For example, during the Burma campaign in world war II, there was a dense rain forest encounter. So to blend with the terrain the British Indian army changed the Khaki uniform to olive green. This helped them to hide from the enemies inside the forest.
Answer: California ground squirrel uses scent camouflage in which an organism uses the smell of another animal to trick their predators or prey. Old rattlesnake skins will be chewed up and spit out by this squirrel, who will then lick the paste off their fur and apply it to their body.
Answer: Counter-illumination is a type of active camouflage in which the body of an organism produces light to match the surroundings. Examples include midwater squids that produce lights scattered all over their sides.