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Why are some animals so well camouflaged?

Phil Torres


Simply put, the detailed camouflage you can come across in the rainforest is astonishing. Whether it be a frog, an insect, or a lizard, camouflage is an essential part of survival in an ecosystem full of very intelligent predators. 

Here are some of the most impressive examples of camouflage we've come across in Tambopata.



Sphaenorhyncus lacteus, the greater hatchet-faced treefrog. Photo by Phil Torres



A katydid. Photo by Jeff Cremer.



A Plica plica tree runner camouflages against the bark of a large Ficus tree.  Photo by Phil Torres



             Another related katydid- some camouflage against dead leaves, others against live, green leaves.                  Photo by Jeff Cremer


Predators- like monkeys and birds- have remarkable vision, pattern recognition, and learning abilities. Young birds can quickly learn which butterflies are distasteful or poisonous, and monkeys can learn which 'fake leaf,' like the katydids pictured, are actually edible insects.

Because of that learning ability, many of these camouflaged species are polymorphic- meaning the same species will come in a variety of different camouflage schemes. Within the above katyid species for example, some will look more like a live leaf while others have dead-leaf venation. The variation helps prevent monkeys from learning one single false-leaf pattern as food and makes it more difficult for them to find and eat these cryptic creatures.

Camouflage is one of many survival tactics that have evolved in the animals of the rainforest. While some species may focus on being poisonous, dangerous, or fast, these guys do an incredible job of looking more plant-like than animal-like, and it seems to pay off.


Discover amazing rainforest creatures in Tambopata, Peru!


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