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Duration:04:27
Uploaded:2015-10-05
Last sync:2019-06-13 14:40
A SciShow kid wrote us and asked: What is camouflage and how does it work? Join Jessi as she explores how different kinds of animals play hide-and-seek in the wild!
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SOURCES:
http://mentalfloss.com/article/61532/explaining-octopus-amazing-camouflage-skills

http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/nwep2a.htm

http://animals.howstuffworks.com/animal-facts/animal-camouflage.htm

http://education.nationalgeographic.com/encyclopedia/camouflage/

http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/insects/find/masked-hunters/

(SciShow kids intro plays)

Jessi: (whispering) Shhh. We're playing hide and seek, but I can't seem to find Squeaks. Can you?

Ha! Found ya! Here at the fort, we're pretty good at hid and seek. You know why? Because we've learned a lot of great tricks from nature. There are lots of kinds of animal that have their own kind of hide and seek. Some animals hide so they can sneak up on their prey, other animals hide so they don't become dinner. Either way, these animals don't hide behind curtains or under tables like we do when we want to play hide and seek, they hide in plain sight.

That sounds amazing, and they can do it thanks to camouflage. One SciShow Kids viewer named Rianne wants to know, "what is camouflage, and how does it work?" Great question! Camouflage is a way for animals to confuse or hide from other animals. Since lots of different animals are either hiding or seeking, there are lots of different kinds of camouflage in nature. One easy way for an animal to camouflage itself is to just blend in with the background.

Let's say you take a quiet walk in the woods. What kind of animals would you expect to see? Well, where I live, I might see some squirrels or a deer, or maybe a cute little field mouse, and you know what these animals all have in common? They're all shades of brown or gray. They match the color of the tree bark and the forest floor where they live, and this makes them harder to spot.

Lots of animals blend in with their environment, but not all of them rely on their color to do it. Some animals get help from the patterns on their skin and fur. Tigers have big black stripes, which makes them harder to find in tall grass, and the spots on baby deer, called fauns, look like patterns that sunlight makes when it shines down through the trees and grass. So when they curl up among some plants for a nice nap, they blend right in.

Now, animals that live in the water have a different environment that they have to blend into. Many ocean animals like  dolphins, sharks, and whales are  often light gray or bluish to match the color of the water. But they have another trick, too: they're lighter on their stomachs than they are on their back. Look at this shark, it's called a gray reef shark. If you were swimming above the shark looking down, it's blue and gray back would blend in with the waters of the ocean below it. But, if you were swimming under the shark and looking up, its white belly would match the lighter water above as the sun shines through it. You might say the shark is covered from top to bottom.

And some animals don't just take on the color or pattern of their surroundings, they camouflage themselves using their shape. Take a look at this guy. Can you see it? It's called the walking leaf, and no wonder! The walking leaf not only has the color and shape of a green leaf, it even has markings on its body that make it look like it's been nibbled on. Now, try to spot this leafy sea dragon. Covered in small fins all over its body, the leafy sea dragon blends perfectly in the seaweed where it lives. The leafy sea dragon even moves like a piece of seaweed, gracefully tumbling around in the water. Now that's some convincing camouflage.

But of course, a lot of animals don't naturally look like things in their environment, so some of them have found ways to hide themselves by playing dress-up. The dresser crab walks along the sea floor looking for little things that it can wear on its shell, like coral, sea anemones, or seaweed. When it's all covered up and sitting still, the crab is nearly invisible. Then, there's this insect, called the masked hunter. When they're young, masked hunters are covered in tiny hairs. When it throws dust on top of its body, it sticks to the hairs, covering it completely. It's kinda like an invisibility cloak.

So there you have it, animals use all kinds of tricks to keep them hidden, and every animal has a slightly different way to do it, depending on what kind of animal it is and where it lives.

Thanks for learning about camouflage with us. Do you have a question about something you'd like to learn more about? Get help from a parent and leave a comment below or email us at kids@thescishow.com and we'll see you next time.

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