The Different Principles of Camouflage

Feb 18, 2020

Camouflage is the use of a combination of coloration, materials or illumination for concealment. This can be done by either making the organism/object hard to see (crypsis) or by disguising the organism/object by mimicking something else (mimesis).


Crypsis is a way by which an organism makes it difficult to get detected through the naked eye or through any other means like sound or scent.

Visual crypsis can be achieved by various ways like:

  • Living underground in the dark,
  • Being active specifically at night,
  • Camouflage.

Anyway, let’s go through a few ways through which crypsis works in more detail.

Similarity to the surroundings

Some organisms’ colors or patterns resemble that of a specific natural background. This characteristic is a significant component of camouflage and is generally found in almost all forms of environment. For example:

Black faced sandgrouse

(It resembles that of the background of the desert)

[Source-Wikimedia Commons]

Disruptive coloration

Disruptive colorations utilize highly contrasting, non-repetitive markings like spots/stripes on the outlines of an animal. These spots/stripes help to break up the outlines of the animal and at the same time it also helps to conceal prominent features like the eyes. For example:


 The leopard

[Source-Wikimedia Commons]

Elimination of shadows

Specific animals have developed intricate measures to eliminate their shadows. Their bodies exhibit specific features in which their bodies are a little bit flattened with the sides narrowing to an edge. These animals habitually and frequently press their bodies to the ground. Their sides are decorated with white scales that effectively disrupt the remaining areas of the shadows. For example:

Flat-tail lizard

[Source- Wikimedia Commons]


Various animals take the help of materials such as sand, twigs or shell-pieces from environment. Through the use of these materials, these animals conceal the features of the bodies, break up the outlines and match the backgrounds. For example:


Camouflaged crab

[Source- Wikimedia Commons]

Cryptic behavior

This one’s mostly based on movements. Certain situations call for the organism to stay still, lie down, pretend to be dead etc. These characteristics help them from easy detection. Thus, it is an important camouflage technique.

Motion camouflage

This might look to be pretty ineffective from the hindsight because movements generally give away the position of an animal but certain organisms (especially insects) do use movements as a form of camouflage. Insects like hoverflies and dragonflies use the form of motion camouflage to disguise their presence from potential enemies.

Changeable skin color

Certain animals like the chameleon, frog, squid etc have the capability of altering their skin colors or patterns through the use of special chromatophore cells. The change in color helps them to resemble the background thereby, helping them to conceal themselves effectively.


The chameleon

[Source- Wikimedia Commons]


You’ll see this form of camouflage in many marine animals. These animals generally float near the surface and are highly transparent. Such transparency gives them a near perfect camouflage. These forms of camouflage are generally noticed in marine organisms such as the jellyfish.



[Source- Wikimedia Commons]


In mimesis, the camouflaged organism looks like a thing that generally holds no significance to the observer. It’s commonly found in animals prey animals such as a grasshopper (pretends to be a dry leaf) etc. By implementing this form of camouflage, the prey animal disguises itself from danger. It’s an important feature of survival.

Some predators also implement this technique to lure in prey. For example: Flower mantis. These ones lure in prey by disguising themselves in the form of an orchid.


The grasshopper pretends to be a dry leaf to hide itself from predators

[Source- Wikimedia commons]


Flower mantis

[Source-Wikimedia commons]


Camouflage is specially considered to be a form of survival technique. But you see that even predators implement this technique to lure in prey. Camouflage is a true wonder of nature and is a fascinating subject indeed. With that, we’ll bring this article to a close. Hope you had a good read. Ciao!

Article Posted in: Academics
Tags: Biology

Sudipto Das

Sudipto writes educational content periodically for LearnPick USA and backs it up with extensive research and relevant examples. He's an avid reader and a tech enthusiast at the same time with a little bit of “Arsenal Football Club” thrown in as well. He's got more than 5 years of experience in digital marketing, SEO and graphic designing.

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