Trinetta Dasilva November 13, 2019 Fruit
There are several separate reasons why animals have evolved colors. Camouflage enables an animal to remain hidden from view. Animals use color to advertise services such as cleaning to animals of other species; to signal their sexual status to other members of the same species; and in mimicry, taking advantage of the warning coloration of another species. Some animals use flashes of color to divert attacks by startling predators. Zebras may possibly use motion dazzle, confusing a predator’s attack by moving a bold pattern rapidly. Some animals are colored for physical protection, with pigments in the skin to protect against sunburn, while some frogs can lighten or darken their skin for temperature regulation. Finally, animals can be colored incidentally. For example, blood is red because the heme pigment needed to carry oxygen is red. Animals colored in these ways can have striking natural patterns.
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.
While many animals are unable to synthesize carotene pigments to create red and yellow surfaces, the green and blue colors of bird feathers and insect carapaces are usually not produced by pigments at all, but by structural coloration. Structural coloration means the production of color by microscopically-structured surfaces fine enough to interfere with visible light, sometimes in combination with pigments: for example, peacock tail feathers are pigmented brown, but their structure makes them appear blue, turquoise and green. Structural coloration can produce the most brilliant colors, often iridescent. For example, the blue green gloss on the plumage of birds such as ducks, and the purple blue green red colors of many beetles and butterflies are created by structural coloration. Animals use several methods to produce structural color, as described in the table.
Some prey animals such as zebra are marked with high-contrast patterns which possibly help to confuse their predators, such as lions, during a chase. The bold stripes of a herd of running Zebra have been claimed make it difficult for predators to estimate the prey’s speed and direction accurately, or to identify individual animals, giving the prey an improved chance of escape. Since dazzle patterns (such as the Zebra’s stripes) make animals harder to catch when moving, but easier to detect when stationary, there is an evolutionary trade-off between dazzle and camouflage. Another theory is that the zebra’s stripes could provide some protection from flies and biting insects.
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.
Batesian mimicry was first described by pioneering naturalist Henry W. Bates. When an edible prey animal comes to resemble, even slightly, a distasteful animal, natural selection favors those individuals that even very slightly better resemble the distasteful species. This is because even a small degree of protection reduces prediction and increases the chance that an individual mimic will survive and reproduce. For example, many species of hover fly are colored black and yellow like bees, and are in consequence avoided by birds (and people).
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