Credits: “Awake 1981 edition”
Another method of camouflage is by shape imitation, mimicry. This is where insects and fish excel. I remember once hearing someone exclaim: “I can’t believe it! The twig is walking.” Well, it was not a twig; it was an insect.
Insects constitute a world of varied beauty and bizarre, surprising, intricate forms. Coloring and shape provide such perfect camouflage that it baffles the eyes even at close range. Think of the stick insect that looked like a dried twig. Other insects resemble green sprigs, green leaves, dry leaves, partly decayed leaves, or even the excreta of birds.
The leaf insect looks so much like a bunch of green leaves in color, shape, veinlike markings and in its slow, swaying movements, that other insects have been deceived into nibbling it! And here in Nigeria, there is a little beetle that looks like a leaf at the end of a stalk. The stalk is its snout!
There are masters of camouflage in the waters, too. The stonefish looks like a large stone. And the multi branched body of the Australian “sea dragon” resembles seaweed. The sargassum fish with its blotchy coloration is almost invisible among the seaweeds of the Sargasso Sea. There, concealed from predators, it waylays its prey. It adds a bait to its camouflage—a fleshy growth on its snout that it wriggles as a lure for other fish.
The scorpion fish has a blotchy red coloration like the stones and corals among which it lives. It can vary this coloring to fit more closely into its surroundings. Many species of fish can do this, and some add sand and pieces of weed to their body to complete the camouflage.
Then there is the squid, which ejects a blob of inky fluid when pursued. This creates a “smoke screen” behind which it can swim to safety. Since the blob is approximately the size of the squid, it confuses pursuers in another way: You can imagine a predator’s intent attack on the blob instead of on the squid!
Chameleons’ Color Changes
The color changes of the scorpion fish remind us of that other master of camouflage, the chameleon. It is among the few reptiles that have a selection of vivid colors.
I once saw one in Madagascar groping down a tree limb, trembling like an old man, dressed in a patchwork robe of green, yellow, gray and brown. These were also the colors of the bark and leaves on the tree. Its slow, deliberate gait made it attract less attention. At a glance it could have been a cluster of yellow, brown and green leaves shaking in the wind.
Chameleons can change color at will to match their surroundings. As the animal’s eyes record the colors in its immediate environment, certain nerves send messages to hormones, which react by stimulating pigment-bearing cells (chromatophores) to change their concentration, distribution and position. Thus the chameleon changes color. This is in contrast with the involuntary color change of other creatures, depending on seasonal changes of temperature and variations in lighting or environmental color.
In connection with camouflage, did God design the animals that way because he purposed for them to live off one another, and thus they needed help to survive? It is of interest to note that when God created man and woman, the animals had no fear of them, or of one another. The Bible tells why, stating that God gave man and beast “green vegetation for food.”—Gen. 1:29, 30.
However, after man’s rebellion, earthly creation became chaotic. Man lost his loving dominion over the animals. As a concession for his survival, man was authorized to eat animal flesh as food after the Flood. (Gen. 9:2-4) The animals, too, coming into chaos, began to live off one another. And since God had created a vast variety of features to make animal life interesting, many animals would be able to adapt to their new situation by using certain features to assist in their survival.
Mankind has done much the same. It certainly was not God’s purpose for man to kill his fellowman and even cannibalize at times. But man, too, has the ability to adapt to new circumstances for his survival, even using camouflage in wartime.
In God’s new order, man and animals will once again come into the peaceful condition God purposed. Then neither will be in fear of sudden death, or have to worry about an inadequate food supply.—Isa. 11:9; Hos. 2:18; Rev. 21:4, 5.