Lacyann Dupont November 29, 2019 Animal
Hugh Bamford Cott’s 500-page book Adaptive Coloration in Animals, published in wartime 1940, systematically described the principles of camouflage and mimicry. The book contains hundreds of examples, over a hundred photographs and Cott’s own accurate and artistic drawings, and 27 pages of references. Cott focussed especially on ”maximum disruptive contrast”, the kind of patterning used in military camouflage such as disruptive pattern material. Indeed, Cott describes such applications
wholly new at the time. It strongly supported Darwin’s theory of sexual selection, arguing that the obvious differences between male and female birds such as the Argus pheasant were selected by the females, pointing out that bright male plumage was found only in species ”which court by day”.The book introduced the concept of frequency-dependent selection, as when edible mimics are less frequent than the distasteful models whose colors and patterns they copy. In the book, Poulton also coined the term aposematism for warning coloration, which he identified in widely differing animal groups including mammals (such as the skunk), bees and wasps, beetles, and butterflies.
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.
Protective resemblance is used by prey to avoid predation. It includes special protective resemblance, now called mimesis, where the whole animal looks like some other object, for example when a caterpillar resembles a twig or a bird dropping. In general protective resemblance, now called crypsis, the animal’s texture blends with the background, for example when a moth’s color and pattern blend in with tree bark.
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.
Pigments are colored chemicals (such as melanin) in animal tissues.
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