What Is Camouflage in Animals: Definition & Examples

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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Derrick Arrington

Derrick has taught biology and chemistry at both the high school and college level. He has a master's degree in science education.

Most animals have some form of adaptation to make them more successful and increase their chances for survival. One such adaptation is camouflage. In this lesson, we explore the various types of camouflage found in the animal kingdom.

Definition of Camouflage in Animals

Many animals have evolved to exhibit some form of camouflage, which is an adaptation that allows animals to blend in with certain aspects of their environment. Camouflage increases an organism's chance of survival by hiding it from predators. This gives the animal a higher probability of being able to successfully reproduce and carry on the species. Camouflage is also used by some predators as a tool for hunting. For them, being able to blend in with their environment gives them an element of surprise and increases their chance of successfully obtaining food.

If you ever go to an outdoors or hunting store, you will see clear evidence that camouflage works. As a group, hunters spend millions of dollars each year buying camouflage to help them blend in with the environment. This is one example of a tool that nature perfected and humans also use to their benefit.

Examples of Camouflage in Animals

One animal that uses camouflage to hide in its surroundings is the stone flounder, a flat fish that lies on the ocean floor as it searches for prey. It is advantageous for these fish to blend in with the gravel or sand found at the bottom of the sea to avoid predators. This camouflage also hides them from prey that may move close enough for them to catch.

On the vast savannas of Africa, leopards use their coloration and spots as a hunting tool because it enables them to blend in easily with the tall grasses as they stalk their prey.

Various species of insects, reptiles and amphibians have evolved camouflage that enables them to mimic the plants that they live on or where they spend most of their time. One true master of disguise as a plant mimic is the mossy leaf-tailed gecko of Madagascar. This gecko's coloration and body shape enable it to blend in remarkably with the stems of trees found in its habitat.

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