The visual trickery of obscured animals

Judy Diamond, Alan B. Bond

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

1 Scopus citations


Stripes and splotches of concealing coloration in many species blend almost seamlessly with the surrounding environment, providing a crucial edge in survival. Military equipment had traditionally been colored to provide a sense of tribal or national identity. The brilliant scarlet coats of the 19th-century British army, for example, were designed to be conspicuous, to intimidate the enemy by emphasizing the number and discipline of the force arrayed against them. Stevens and Cuthill found that the models with patterns that disrupted their outline were the hardest for birds to detect and thus retained their mealworms much longer. The task was easier for birds when the pattern was shifted so it did not touch the edges. The solid-colored models were the easiest for birds to find. Disruptive coloration did not work well on its own, however. It was most effective when it made use of colors that were drawn from the palette of the surrounding bark.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages8
Specialist publicationAmerican Scientist
StatePublished - Jan 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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