Disguise in animals and plants – another journey

Every year anew the excitement for Purim rises and the deliberation in choosing the costume… The costumes we wear are meant to increase the joy and laughter of the holiday, to allow us to celebrate without enough, to be someone else for a moment. And it’s really easier to go wild and rejoice when you’re disguised and under the guise of another character.

But disguise is not reserved for humans only. Many animals and plants use disguise to mislead others. The main difference between them and us is in the reason for dressing up: we dress up to celebrate and rejoice, but in nature camouflage is not a game and for many animals it is a necessity of reality, a skill on which life depends.

Predators are forced to disguise themselves, disguise themselves as something harmless or disappear into the field, otherwise their prey will recognize them from a distance and have time to escape… Those destined for prey – they too need camouflage and disguise, to make life difficult for predators. If you stand out in the field, predators will be attracted to you immediately and your end is guaranteed. The harder it is to discover you and reveal your place, the more likely you are to survive. The “Purim” in the natural world lasts all year, and does not amuse anyone…

cheetah.  Photo by Eyal Bartov

cheetah. Photo by Eyal Bartov

A closer look around may reveal to us different and weird methods of camouflage, methods adopted by humans in many situations, from espionage, through various games to battle.

The path of evolution, in which the processes of change in nature take place, is very slow and the animal is unaware of it. A butterfly with frightening eyes painted on its wings did not “choose” itself in the deterrent costume.

One of his ancestors emerged into the world with strange spots on the wings… The birds were frightened and avoided devouring him so he reproduced without threat and spread the gene carrying the wing spots. Natural selection strengthened and spread the mutation (the initial change). Years have passed, and today all members of the same species of butterfly carry on their wings a “costume” of raptor eyes (like the almond Saturn in the picture).

Hence “disguise” in nature is a disguise only in our eyes, and all interpretations are in our human mind וח

The “costumes” in nature can be divided into two types of costume, according to the purpose:

Camouflage costume – Its role is to hide the animal in its environment so that they will not be noticed. The hunter tries to disguise himself in order to succeed in the hunt while the prey animals try to disguise themselves in order to be protected from the predators. In a costume of this kind – the animal tries to resemble its environment.

Impersonation costume – Its role is to make the viewer think that it is another creature, to attract it or to scare it.

Disguise costume for intimidation

There are innocent and harmless animals that disguise themselves as venomous and scary animals.

The scary animal costume gives the disguise a deterrent, and helps him protect his life.

The tadpole is a venomous snake that preys on rodents, which it hunts for stealing and biting, not for biting. The color pattern along its body is very reminiscent of the color and shape patterns on the viper’s body.

Why should a vegan wear the viper’s dark rhombus garment? The viper is the most dangerous snake in northern Israel, both man and animals are careful of its deadly bite and the coin snake simply disguises itself as the dangerous viper so that they are afraid of it and do not harm it.

Disguise costume for attracting insects

Even in the plant world there are those who have adopted permanent costumes for themselves.

The main interest of the plants is to attract insects that will help with pollination.

The bee flower was dressed up in an excellent and precise bee costume. Its petals look just like a real bee. Bees that see the bee flower are attracted to what appears to them to be a bee, enter between the petals and are covered with pollen.

When the male bee finds that the flower has “arranged it”, he will fly away and take the pollen with him. When the male bee enters another bee flower – it pollinates it with the pollen of the previous flower…

And so on.

Beetle.  Photo by Eyal Bartov

Beetle. Photo by Eyal Bartov

The loop plant also needs the help of insects in pollination, but it chose a costume of scent!

The loop flower is not colorful and is not attractive. Its shape is reminiscent of a deep urn, and it must pull the insects deep into the cup so that they are covered with its pollen.
In the pollination season, the loop spreads a strong odor of carcass!

Flies that are attracted to the strong smell of rotting flesh – are tempted and enter the depths of the loop flower,

And perform the pollination work well.

Mottled loop.  Photo by Eyal Bartov

Mottled loop. Photo by Eyal Bartov

A costume for camouflage purposes

Disguise for the purposes of camouflage and insane evasion is very common in the insect world. If you are small

And weak – you better hide!

GodForehead It is a large grasshopper, a herbivore, living on branches and leaves. What’s easier than hunting a large and tasty grasshopper? A lot of predators try to hunt their foreheads for their meal – birds, cat species and other predators. The forehead has no protection, no venom and no thorns…

Forehead.  Photo by Eyal Bartov

Forehead. Photo by Eyal Bartov

What he has left is to hide well. He disguised himself as a green branch, his whole body and even his head elongated and thin as branches of a bush. If he notices danger – he freezes in place and then it is very difficult to detect him.

GodStick It looks like a dry branch or a stalk, and even when you look at a bush with a stick on it – it is very difficult to identify the strange insect. Various sticks have adapted their external shape to the plant on which they live, some have legs that look exactly like leaves, and others are thin and have tiny, degenerate wings, to gain the stem appearance. The movement of the sticks is slow and in fact they have no surprise factor or patent for the escape of lunatics… other than camouflage. Their movement is also meant to deceive the viewer’s eyes – they do not go straight to their destination, but sway as they walk back and forth, looking like a branch moving in the wind. If necessary, if a bird still notices the disguised insect and manages to catch it in its leg – the stick is able to detach the leg and disappear into the depths of the plant. If he is young – his leg will regenerate and grow back, and even if he does not – he prefers a life without a foot from a safe madman.

Stick.  Photo by Eyal Bartov

Stick. Photo by Eyal Bartov

Praying mantis They are champions of camouflage and disguise. Praying Mantis McLean has the color of a dry branch, and its body is built of lugs and bumps just like a thorn.

In contrast, a green mantis looks bright and prominent in color if held in the hand, but when it climbs between the plants it is very difficult to see it.

Even a one-eyed observer will have a hard time discovering a desert camel that is only tens of centimeters away. Its colors and movement are absorbed by the colors of the desert soil and the shadows of the stones. With sharp stings, it is captured and devoured.

Green camel.  Photo by Eyal Bartov

Green camel. Photo by Eyal Bartov

A desert camel.  Photo: Eyal Bartov

A desert camel. Photo: Eyal Bartov

Praying Mantis McLean.  Photo by Eyal Bartov

Praying Mantis McLean. Photo by Eyal Bartov

ToChameleon There is a much more elaborate costume, its camouflage is built on body color exchange.

Body tones and color patterns on it – vary depending on her mood and condition. The skin cells of the chameleon contain different dyes. The melanin found in the chameleon body is also found in our hair and skin, and the larger the amount – the darker we are. In the chameleon, in addition to the melanin grains that are responsible for the dark colors, there are also fatty dyes that create the yellow colors, and transparent crystals that create beautiful physical colors such as green, blue and purple. The Israeli chameleon changes its colors according to the weather, the ambient temperature, a social message such as attack, surrender or courtship, and the type of activity – such as hunting or crazy camouflage. For each occasion – a different and tailored outfit.

There are hunters like The little eagle, A snake that has chosen behavioral camouflage, meaning that not only are their bodies the color of the sand in which they live, but that when they go hunting they also bury themselves in the sand. The moth is completely dug in the soft sand and only its eyes peek out. As soon as possible prey passes – he leaps towards him and grits his teeth.

In many birds, sexual variability is noticeable, that is, the difference between the male and female. The males may be colorful and prominent, like the male lap. In contrast – the females, dressed in modest clothes and disguised in shades of brown and gray. If we look at the incubation habits of these birds – we will immediately understand the reason:

The female knee incubates on the eggs. Ground-dwelling birds need maximum camouflage during the long incubation days, so as not to attract occasional predators.

Camouflage the eyes

What is the organ that most attracts the eye of a threatening predator or of a threatened prey? Eyes.

Even if you are well disguised, if your shining eyes move from side to side, exposed and visible – they will recognize you.

A predator who will not be able to hide his shining eyes – will be discovered immediately. It is important for both the predator and the prey to hide their eyes so as not to be discovered.

Many predators have developed a dark “eye line” for themselves, a stripe that hides the eye and swallows it completely.

In the cheetah it is the “tear strip” – a dark line that goes down from the eye to the mouth and disguises the hunter’s eyes, the nitrogen “chooses” a vertical eye line that comes from the base of the source hides the eye and continues almost to the nape.

In the rocky, the eye is camouflaged exactly at the transition line between the black and white feathers.

The glass is a small nocturnal predator, living in warehouses and on the roofs of houses. But unlike other night predators, the glass is also active during the day and in the light, and it must be very careful of day predators and other lunatics.

Standing on a power cord or on the roof of a house – the glass is a convenient target for his enemies.

The glass has another problem – its eyes are located in the front of its face just like in humans and other nocturnal predators. Anterior position of the eyes is a great advantage for accurately calculating the place of prey with the help of hearing, and is therefore common in nocturnal predators. The disadvantage is in the field of vision – in other birds the eyes are located on both sides of the head, their field of vision is very wide and allows quick detection and escape when a predator comes from behind.

glass.  Photo by Eyal Bartov

glass. Photo by Eyal Bartov

Cup looking.  Photo by Eyal Bartov

Cup looking. Photo by Eyal Bartov

The cup chose an interesting protective costume: on the nape and back of the head it has a drawing that looks just like a pair of eyes.

In fact these are feathers with a different color pattern that looks like big eyes. Who looks at a glass from a distance –

Can be wrong and think the pussy is watching him. Predators in general prefer to hunt by surprise. Unsurprisingly they lose their chances of sneaking up on their prey, so many predators give up on the idea of ​​trying to hunt the “watching” glass all the time, from any direction.

It turns out that we did not invent anything on Purim… a colorful costume, colors, dots, stripes and even a mask on the face – everything has already been invented before us…

A tree owl.  Photo by Eyal Bartov

A tree owl. Photo by Eyal Bartov

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Eyal Bartov is a veteran nature photographer, director and film producer, tour guide, active in nature conservation


Source: כתבות – מסע אחר by www.masa.co.il.

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