How do animals develop camouflage, when they don’t know what other animals see?


I’ve always admired the patterns of tigers, leopards, mantis shrimp, butterflies, etc. But I’ve always wondered how and why they become like that.

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11 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s natural selection, the luck of the draw. As more and more generations are born, there are tiny random variations in patterns. The animals whos patterns worked best would have more success and thus reproduce more. Over time this would continue until an optimal pattern arose and dominated.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Evolution is not a conscious decision. Several small animals, from one species but still a bit different, try to hide from a predator. It notices one of them first (the one that is the most conspicious to it), catches it, eats and leaves, less conspicious ones (the ones that can hide better or are just camouflaged better against that predator) survive and procreate. Repeat that for 1000s of generations, and you’ve got a camouflage.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The ones that are the hardest to see, have the most offspring (prey because they don’t get eaten, predators because they get to eat more). This means the patterns that best fool their opponent species become the most widespread.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Say, for instance, because of climate change there’s now snow in a rocky area where all the mice are brown. Now the brown mice stick out like a sore thumb against the white snow, so they all get picked off by hawks. Mice that happened to be a little lighter camouflage better in the new snowy environment, so more survive, and they produce offspring with lighter fur. Now imagine over many generations the mice with the lightest fur are less likely to get eaten by hawks, so they pass their light fur genes on more readily, and eventually you have all white mice in your now snowy environment. Speaking directly to tigers and leopards, through many many generations, stripes or spots were selected because they gave these animals slight advantages in their environments, so more of the genes for primitive stripes and spots were passed on, and then selection through time has resulted in the patterns we see today.

Anonymous 0 Comments

They don’t do it by conscious choice.

It’s a result of survivorship bias.

If there’s a brown rabbit and a white rabbit living in a place full of patchy, yellowish grass and exposed dirt… the white one sticks out.

Therefore, the white ones get eaten more often because they’re easier to find.

Over time, the white ones become so bad at reproducing because of their limited numbers, that the white genes basically disappear. That leaves only brown rabbits in that area.

And they are camouflaged for the surroundings.

It’s not “how do they develop camouflage”, it’s camouflage happens because camouflaged individuals survive.

People always say evolution is “survival of the fittest” implying that survival is a competition, but it really boils down to “the fittest given the conditions survive”.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Survival of the best adapted

They don’t need to know what others see they just need to live long enough to reproduce. Repeat the process over billions of years and you get the diversity of life we have today

Anonymous 0 Comments

Evolution “rewards” mutations that improve the animal’s ability to predate or avoid predation. It does not know or care how the mutation does this, only that individuals with the mutation reproduce better on average than individuals without it.

Evolution is not a consciously directed process. There are [plants whose flowers mimic particular species of bee](, for instance. They do not have minds and understand the appearance of bees, but instead are responding to an environment where appearing to be a bee queen makes them more likely to be pollinated.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Trial and error, sort to speak.

An specimen develops a singular pattern, let’s say due to mutations, and that make it more successful at hunting/surviving, that allow it to mate more than others than have brighter colours or more simplistic patterns.

Repeating this over the generations drives the definition of a particular pattern.

I am not an expert but imagine a albino grizzle bear hunting more in the North Pole than its brown relatives. That fur colour allowed him to survive better then.

PS: Not an expert, please be nice.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Let’s say you have 10 marbles. 6 children come by and each selects their favorite marble. A marble maker comes and takes the four that were left and makes others similar to these. With 10 new marbles 4 are left and replicated. Each series the ones that are left are imperfectly replicated. The ones that are being replicated are the least favored, instead of the most. Now with animals and camouflage it is predators eating rather than children selecting, but the idea is the same. It isn’t by choice of the “camouflaged”, but the least favored by the selector that survive in this case.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Organisms do not deliberately evolve. Millions of years ago, butterflies may have had multiple different patterns and it’s the ones that blended in best who had the best shot at surviving and reproducing.