The best disguise is to pretend to be an inanimate object

Creatures that look like dead leaves use so-called “camouflage” to avoid predators. Image credit: Shutterstock/Dr Morley Read

The state of camouflaging as an inanimate object is more able to evade predators than other camouflage methods. With this method of visual deception called mask camouflage, the predator will find it 4 times longer than in disguise.

Evolution has given animals a variety of ways to hide themselves from predator discovery: stripes on zebras make it difficult to separate from the herd, some spiders are overlooked because they look like bird droppings, and chameleons are able to disappear into the background of their environment. But until now, no one has studied how these hidden methods stack on top of each other.

João Vitor de Alcantara Viana of the State University of Campinas, Brazil, notes that no comparison of the types of camouflage has ever been studied. So, it will be a great opportunity to understand how camouflage has evolved and how different types of camouflage interact with each other.

To find out which camouflage strategy was most effective, Viana’s team collected data from 84 studies of various predators and prey. The study found that any form of camouflage increased predators’ search time by an average of 63 percent and reduced the likelihood of attack by 27 percent. But animals that camouflaged rocks, plants, or feces were able to successfully delay attacks, increasing predator search time by 295 percent.

Other camouflage methods, such as blending into the background or using chaotic color patterns, can increase the predator’s search time by about 55%.

Anna Hughes of the University of Essex in the UK believes that the study is very helpful in identifying possible knowledge gaps in the field.

Co-author Rafael Campos Duarte of ABC Federal University in Brazil said one of the gaps in the study was geographical, as most of the studies the researchers were able to review on camouflage species came from North America and Europe. As research develops, they hope to study this phenomenon on a more diverse global scale. (Source: China Science Daily Xin Yu)

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