Animal Adaptation: Camouflage

Adaptation occurs when a change in the body or behavior of a species over many generations makes it better able to survive in its environment. There are different types of adaptation, but all are important survival mechanisms since organisms that adapt successfully are more likely to elude predators and survive to reproduce. In turn, their offspring will then pass that adaptation on to their young. Because of this, adaptation is important to many animal species.

Let’s take a look at the type of adaptation known as camouflage.

With camouflage, an organism adapts by developing coloring or markings that help it blend in with its surroundings. Camouflage comes in handy when one organism is trying to escape the attention of a predator because the more an organism blends in with its environment, the more difficult it is for a predator to identify it as prey.

Let’s look at caterpillars as an example. The objective of the caterpillars in our scenario is to make it to adulthood so that they can lay eggs. We have three types of  caterpillars. One type has spots, another is multi-colored, and the third is a solid color. The only predator of these caterpillars is a species of bird that lives in the region for twelve months of the year. These birds aren’t picky, they’ll eat any caterpillar they can find.

Looks Like LeafThe first day, the birds eat all the spotted caterpillars. Why? Because they have neon spots that are impossible to overlook. The second day, the birds eat all of the multi-colored caterpillars. Why? Because it’s hard to blend with a green leaf when you are all the colors of the rainbow. The third day, the birds eat all the solid-colored caterpillars that are not green. Why? Because it’s spring, the leaves are green, and the non-green caterpillars were very obvious to the birds. By the fourth day, the birds are very hungry. They are looking for something delicious and are peering closely at every green leaf. Which caterpillar survives? The one caterpillar who is not just green, but green with a colored stripe down its back that exactly matches its leave.

Why did this caterpillar survive? Because this species of caterpillar has adapted to the point where it has perfected the camouflage for its environment!

Check out this video about camouflage!

Sources:
Scholastic Science Dictionary
Furious Vegetables – YouTube


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