14 astonishing cases of animal camouflage that will boggle your mind

8) Merlet’s Scorpionfish –

Credit: National Geographic


Credit: Christopher Bartlett

With its oddly upturned mouth tentacles, a very distinctive head shape and profusion of skin flaps, Merlet’s Scorpionfish (Rhinopias aphanes) are known for their ‘calm’ demeanor and aggressive reflexes when it comes to their prey. And this is where their expertise in animal camouflage comes into play, as the fish often chooses its hiding spot beneath corals. This allows them to be disguised in a quite convincing manner. So when the prey approaches near, they quickly lunge forward in an ambush-like action to fully swallow the small fish/fishes.

9) Orchid Mantis –

Credit: National Geographic


Credit: Animal Doctor

The first ever flower mimic known to humans, the Orchid Mantis (Hymenopus coronatus) is fascinatingly conspicuous (or rather inconspicuous) in its mimicry of a flower – especially when viewed from the human perspective. But recent studies have revealed that mantises are attractive to insects by themselves, as opposed to just making use of animal camouflage (that replicates an orchid). This is because of the specialized color showcased by the mantis that matches up with the insect’s perception of nectar-containing flower. In other words, the mantis takes advantage of its concentrated mass of any single color, and then lures the insect (via sensory exploitation) to its doom.

10) Phyllomimus –

Credit: John Horstman


Credit: Melvyn Yeo

Also known as Leaf Katydids, the Phyllomimus are known for emanation of sound effects that are achieved by rubbing their forewings, unlike other family of grasshoppers and crickets. But arguably more fascinating is their application of animal camouflage that is derived from the ova-shaped wings with arrangement of veins. These vibrantly green body component allows the insect to fully mimic a young leaf, thus making thickets and shrubs conducive to habitation for the Phyllomimus.

11) Pygmy Seahorse –

Credit: Wikimedia


Credit: Reef Guide

Known to inhabit within gorgonian corals, the Pygmy Seahorse (Hippocampus bargibanti) displays a really impressive case of animal camouflage – so much so that the species itself was discovered only after scientists analysed specimens of selected gorgonian coral. This fascinating scope of bio-mimicry extends to anatomical details, including the seahorse’s bulbous tubercles covering the body that match up with the polyps of its host. The replication is further enhanced with the actual body of the animal that is strikingly similar to the coral.

12) Reef Stonefish –

Credit: Ryan Photographic


Credit: Blue Reef Aquarium

Known for mimicking an encrusted rock or even a lump of coral, the Reef Stonefish (Synanceia verrucosa) is actually the most deadliest fish found in the ocean. Generally found in the wide tropical belt across the Indo-Pacific oceans, the marine organism carries its poisonous venom inside an arrangement of stout dorsal fin spines. Of course, as we mentioned before, the fish is also well known for exhibiting its expertise in animal camouflage – and as such, is usually found under rocks or ledges. From such hiding spots, the organism can rapidly strike with such a quick reflex that high speed cameras are sometimes required for capturing its feeding action.

13) Stick Insect –



Resembling the twigs amid which it lives, the Stick Insect (order – Phasmida) showcases one of the most effective means of natural animal camouflage – which is found in almost all of the its 3,000 species. Interestingly, not all of the Phasmids are drab in their color, with some taking the conspicuous route of brilliant hues and even florid wings. The stick insects are also pretty big for their ‘insect’ category, with Phobaeticus kirbyi of Borneo extending till a length of 21 inches – which makes it one of the world’s longest insects.

14) Tawny Frogmouth –

Credit: Jerry Coyne


Credit: Image KB

Indigenous to Australia, the Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) bird has the unique ability to mimic the broken branch of a tree. This improvised animal camouflage is achieved with its specialized posture that entails perching in a stiff manner, smoothing out its plumage and then orienting its tail along the branch. Moreover, the bird is also known to narrow its eyes (to hide them), while the mixture of spots and coloration on the plumage adds to the incredibly cryptic mimicry.

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