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The Thoughtful Animal

The Thoughtful Animal

Exploring the evolution and architecture of the mind

You Can Run But You Can’t Hide (From Predators)

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Probably the worst thing to happen to you, if you’re an animal playing the game of life, is to be eaten by some bigger beast. If you’ve already managed to successfully reproduce by then, as far as evolution is concerned, maybe it’s OK for you to shuffle off that mortal coil. Still, I imagine it’s a terrible way to go. Luckily, evolution has endowed certain creatures with various tools to avoid being gobbled up as a mid-day snack, and one of the most widespread anti-predator defense systems is camouflage.

The drive to find food is nature’s grand game of hide and seek. As a prey species improves its ability to hide, predators improve their ability to seek. If camouflage is a clever way to keep a secret, then evolution has endowed some of its toothier beasts with some impressive skills for revealing those secrets.

Head over to Nautilus Magazine to read the rest of my latest piece: 1-Trick Chameleon: Predators Learn to See Through Camouflage

Camouflaged nightjar photo via Jolyon Troscianko, used with permission.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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