A couple of years ago I stumbled across an article that detailed how chameleons adjust the amount of energy they expend on their camouflage depending on the sensory abilities of any predator they detect in the area. Contrary to popular belief, chameleons spend a relatively small amount of time in camouflage and will only change colour if in immediate danger. Camouflage requires a surprising amount of energy so if they know that the predator has poor eyesight they will conserve energy by using as little as possible in their camouflage. Now, it might be just me, but I thought that this was incredible!There are many animals that are coloured to enable them to blend in with their surrounding but many less that have the ability to physically change their appearance in order to do so. Octopuses exhibit some of the most impressive changes with some being able to change both colour and texture. Their ability to change colour is due to biochromes, cells that allow them to change the colour, pattern and opacity of their skin. A friend sent me a TED Talk recently which included one of the most impressive examples of this I have seen:
If you haven’t got time to watch the whole talk (6 minutes), here is small section of talk that shows an octopuses ability to manipulate its colour and texture to perfectly emulate its surroundings. Spot the octopus…
Finally, and on a slightly different tack, I want to introduce you to the smalleye pygmy shark. An amazing animal measuring just 15 centimetres when fully grown, which has developed an extraordinary method of hiding itself from predators. In the deep blue, dark waters it calls home, an animal is instantly recognisable from beneath due to its silhouette against the bluish light coming from the surface. The smalleye pygmy shark has developed an ingenious way of making itself ‘invisible’ from beneath using bioluminescence. By producing the same bluish light on its stomach as you would see coming from the surface, it hides its own silhouette and blends in with the light coming from above. It is quirks like these that continue to surprise and delight me. They convince me that there will always be mysteries to be solved and I look forward to learning about each of them as they are uncovered.
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