Plays on Color in the Animal Kingdom

Given the role colour plays in all of our lives, in a setting where survival take priority, it’s often that colour comes to aid. For most animals, having colours that match their surroundings is enough.

An animal in the ocean would match the ocean floor from above, and the sky from below. An animal in the jungle would match the area in which it lives, whether that is the canopy or the ground.

Made famous for their colour-changing adaptation, chameleons, with their strange eyes and tongues, have recesses of pigment in their skin that allow for change nearly at will. From blue to yellow, and the combination of, the chameleon is the esteemed master of disguise in the animal kingdom. But just as Bioluminescence, this camouflage has other suggested purposes.

Chameleons are said to change colour with mood or psycholgical states. The colour change also plays a major role in communication, considering the chameleon has no outer or middle ear, like snakes, which can feel vibrations in the ground or in branches.

Another interesting camoflague is that of the polar bear. Even a well-known predator needs camouflage. Commonly mistaken for being white, its warm, insulating fur is actually translucent, and it refracts the colours of its surroundings, which would naturally be white snow. Given how well they are insulated from the cold, the bears will overheat at fifty degrees fahrenheit, so seeing them as anything other than white would be very rare. With age, the fur might become a dirty yellow, but by that time, it is much less likely that they will be preyed upon. The most interesting part about polar bear fur is that, underneath the coat, its skin is black, which is visible on the bear only at its head. They also don’t shed their coat, like most other mammals.

While camouflage doesn’t necessarily hide any animal, these adaptations certainly help them be less visible. And not all animals use colour to hide. Butterflies, through colour and pattern, have been popularly acknowledged. Male birds are often vibrant in colour to attact mates, while females are the ones that are coloured for the safe keeping of their eggs.

Author: ruecian