Photography

Can you Spot The Animals Hidden in These Photos?

From leafy seadragons hidden among coral to vipers submerged in sand, see all the ways animals conceal themselves in nature. Tuesday, 31 October

By Sarah Gibbens

While some animals defend themselves with sharp claw and powerful bites, others prefer a subtler approach to self-preservation.

Animals all around the world in diverse environments use the visual technique of camouflage. Animals such as bobcats conceal themselves in tall grass; the white fur of the arctic fox renders it virtually invisible against a snow-covered backdrop. Chameleons, perhaps nature’s most famous masters of disguise, can change the color of their skin, in part to match their surroundings. (Find out what happens when chameleons look in a mirror.)

Many animals also use mimicry, a form of camouflage that entails acting like another object or organism. Few animals are more talented mimics than walking sticks, which have disguised themselves as twigs and leaves for the past 126 million years.

The walking sticks’ longtime disguises are a matter of survival. One study published in 2014 suggested that, with the arrival of the first birds and mammals, insects quickly began to mimic plants as a form of survival. (Read more about the study.)

Camouflage is also effective for more than avoiding the hungry eyes of predators. Some predators such as vipers and bobcats blend into their surroundings, allowing them to more effectively sneak up on their prey.

Look through the photos above to see if these animals' disguises fool you.