Rosamonde Morvan November 30, 2019 Fruit
The main mechanisms to create the resemblances described by Poulton – whether in nature or in military applications – are crypts, blending into the background so as to become hard to see (this covers both special and general resemblance); disruptive patterning, using color and pattern to break up the animal’s outline, which relates mainly to general resemblance; mime sis, resembling other objects of no special interest to the observer, which relates to special resemblance; counter shading, using graded color to create the illusion of flatness, which relates mainly to general resemblance; and counter illumination, producing light to match the background, notably in some species of squid.
Depending on the situation they are used in, colors can give rise to positive or negative effects. Each color used by itself in a room with the expectation of creating a positive effect, carries the possibility of causing a negative reaction instead. Being subject to excessive stimuli can cause changes in breathing pattern, pulse, blood pressure and muscle tension. On the other hand, too little stimuli can lead to anxiousness, sleeplessness, excessive emotional reaction, loss of concentration and nervousness.
Pigments are colored chemicals (such as melanin) in animal tissues. For example, the Arctic fox has a white coat in winter (containing little pigment), and a brown coat in summer (containing more pigment), an example of seasonal camouflage (a polyphenism). Many animals, including mammals, birds, and amphibians, are unable to synthesize most of the pigments that color their fur or feathers, other than the brown or black melanins that give many mammals their earth tones. For example, the bright yellow of an American goldfinch, the startling orange of a juvenile red-spotted newt, the deep red of a cardinal and the pink of a flamingo are all produced by carotenoid pigments synthesized by plants. In the case of the flamingo, the bird eats pink shrimps, which are themselves unable to synthesize carotenoids. The shrimps derive their body color from microscopic red algae, which like most plants are able to create their own pigments, including both carotenoids and (green) chlorophyll. Animals that eat green plants do not become green, however, as chlorophyll does not survive digestion.
Bio luminescence is the production of light, such as by the photosensor of marine animals, and the tails of glow-worms and fireflies. Bio luminescence, like other forms of metabolism, releases energy derived from the chemical energy of food. A pigment, luciferin is catalysed by the enzyme luciferase to react with oxygen, releasing light. Comb jellies such as Euphemisms are bio luminescent, creating blue and green light, especially when stressed; when disturbed, they secrete an ink which luminescence in the same colors. Since comb jellies are not very sensitive to light, their bio luminescence is unlikely to be used to signal to other members of the same species (e.g. to attract mates or repel rivals); more likely, the light helps to distract predators or parasites. Some species of squid have light-producing organs (photophores) scattered all over their undersides that create a sparkling glow. This provides counter-illumination camouflage, preventing the animal from appearing as a dark shape when seen from below. Some anglerfish of the deep sea, where it is too dark to hunt by sight, contain symbiotic bacteria in the ’bait’ on their ’fishing rods’. These emit light to attract prey.
Warning coloration is effectively the ”opposite” of camouflage, and a special case of advertising. Its function is to make the animal, for example a wasp or a coral snake, highly conspicuous to potential predators, so that it is noticed, remembered, and then avoided. As Peter Forbes observes, ”Human warning signs employ the same colours – red, yellow, black, and white – that nature uses to advertise dangerous creatures.” Warning colors work by being associated by potential predators with something that makes the warning colored animal unpleasant or dangerous.
When cephalopod molluscs like squid and cuttlefish find themselves against a light background, they contract many of their chromatography, concentrating the pigment into a smaller area, resulting in a pattern of tiny, dense, but widely spaced dots, appearing light. When they enter a darker environment, they allow their chromatography to expand, creating a pattern of larger dark spots, and making their bodies appear dark. Amphibians such as frogs have three kinds of star-shaped chromatophore cells in separate layers of their skin. The top layer contains ’phosphorescent’ with orange, red, or yellow pigments; the middle layer contains ’sophomores’ with a silvery light-reflecting pigment; while the bottom layer contains ’melanophores’ with dark melanin.
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