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How animals are masked

In nature - just as in human society - raging a permanent war, and whether an individual or even a species survives, depends on how they adapt to their surroundings and deceive or intimidate their enemies. Although we are not friends of the pollination of animal attributes, it must be admitted that in comparing the ways in which animals try to preserve their lives, as many human warriors are trying to do, there are numerous parallels. However, it is remarkable that, even before the most modern inventions of human military technology, animals usually have the advantage of many millions of years.

This is particularly noticeable when comparing the ways in which individuals attempt to hide from the sight of enemies, or so-called camouflage. The word "camouflage" originated from the French "camoufler" - cloaking, camouflaging and first appearing in military history in the middle of the 19th century in connection with British shipping units in India, which were equipped with khaki uniforms, which in Urdu means "dust " . It was actually one of the first attempts to hide the soldiers from the eyes of the enemy, because - as we can easily find out by looking at the history of the wars - by then the trend was rather opposite and the military uniforms often had very colorful colors. In a similar way, however, millions of years have masked a myriad of insects and other animals.

It is easy to find out when, on a sunny summer day, we cross the high grass a few times through the nets - it is surprising how rich catches are caught in it, and at first glance, we saw only a few brightly colored butterflies. The green color of different shades is the most common cover in the nature, or camouflage, cryptic or camouflage coloring at all, probably because a large part of the natural environment is green because of the vegetation. However, the individual colors are not as good as the body of the animal - or the soldier's uniform - covered with colorful stains in the colors that surround them.

Another type of camouflage is contrasting stains, which can be in quite conspicuous colors, but they are arranged to wipe out the actual contours of the animal and create the impression that it is actually quite different. A suitable cover color is often supplemented by the fact that the animal's shapes are remarkably like a leaf, a twig, a piece of bark, or a stone. Such a likeness of the animal (and also of the plant) to something else is referred to as mimicry or mimes.

The word mimicry was used for the first time by William Kirby and William Spence in 1817 in his work Introduction to Entomology, and they have just marked the phenomenon when insects resemble parts of plants. Since then, however, the word mimicry has gained much wider significance. The word mime comes from the Greek mimesis, which means imitation.

The opposite of the cryptic discoloration is an amatic or a warning.
However, this can often be included in mimicry, although of a particular type. Batesian mimicry is a deceptive alert color, where the harmless and mostly non-defenseless animal takes on the coloring and warning signs of poisonous or otherwise dangerous animals. A classic example of this is the coloring, that is, a completely defenseless double-winged insect, which in its appearance mimics bumblebees, bees and most often wasps, armed with dangerous stings. The "weft" color is quite widespread among the insects, we can meet the yellow-black striped beetles and even the butterflies. Hornet monster imitates its dangerous pattern so perfectly that it has not only furred wings with flakes just on the edges, but even in flight buzzes.

The combination of yellow and black is very striking, so many other animals use it as a warning coloring - some of us, for example, a lily of the valley, some of the ladybirds or the caterpillars. Another, often used color combination is red and black, which can be found for example in some ladybirds, beetles or beetles. These animals are usually equipped with venous glands, or their body is permeated with toxins or unpleasantly tasting or smelling substances, which makes them bite for most predators inedible. Exceptions are of course to be found, and so the colorful grasses do not worry about the wasp, regardless of their aematic coloring, just as the mongrel do not make the difference between the fog, the lamb or the fog.

Besides the Batesovsky mimic, we can still meet the Müller's mimic in our nature. This is the case where one dangerous or unedged species mimics another dangerous species so that their common predator has learned to recognize this color more easily. This increases the likelihood of survival of both species. As an example from our home environment, the social wasps in which we live (if we do not count waxes and hornets) can once again serve eight species so similar that only an expert can recognize them reliably.

But masking and intimidation is not limited to colors and shapes. Have you ever wondered why there are so many night butterflies so strikingly hairy? This is not because it is not cold at night, although the nights are sometimes really cold, but the reason is much more sophisticated. Night butterflies are especially at risk from bats that are not controlled by sight but hearing by means of reflected ultrasound signals they send. It is virtually identical to human sonar, and only to the type of radar-like wave. Just as from the beginning of the use of these inventions in military technology, army experts try to deceive or disable these detectors, and night butterflies have developed a number of measures to make it difficult for bats to hinder. And just the hairs on the bodies and the wings are "inventions" that help survive the night butterflies. The wrinkles at the edges of the wings prevent the formation of airborne whirlwinds during the flight, the murmur of which could reveal butterflies to the bat, while the hairy body effectively absorbs the bats' ultrasound signals, and the butterflies thus become "invisible" bats.

Similar principles are used by state-of-the-art "stealth" combat aircraft. But some butterflies, such as the ties, go further in their ways of defense. On the sides of the body, they have two relatively simple "ears" capable of receiving high frequency bats signals. If their "antisonar" devices fail and the bat reaches a dangerous distance, they send a special ultrasonic signal that discourages most bats from attacking. It is assumed, however, that the bat no longer encountered similar prey and found it to be ineligible. And that is the case of the wounds whose bodies contain toxic, disgustingly tasty substances. This is a case of akademism, this time in acoustic design.

Indeed, these cases are far from exhausting all forms of camouflage and other defenses we can encounter in our animals. It is just a small reminder of the enormous variety of nature and the guideline of what everyone can observe while staying in the countryside.

Author: Hana and Vladimir Motyček
Source: Ekolist , Our Nature

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