The biological functions of coloration in animals are sometimes surprising. Color can attract mates, intimidate enemies, and distract predators. But color patterns can also conceal animals from detection. Concealing coloration is unusual because it is an adaptation not only to the visual features of the environment but also to the perceptual and cognitive capabilities of other organisms. Judy Diamond and Alan Bond bring to light the many factors at work in the evolution of concealing coloration.
Animals that resemble twigs, tree bark, stones, and seaweed may appear to be perfect imitations, but no concealment strategy is without flaws. Amid the clutter of the natural world, predators search for minute, telltale clues that will reveal the identity of their prey. Predators have remarkable abilities to learn to discriminate the fake from the real. But prey have their own range of defensive tactics, evolving multiple appearances or the ability to change color at will. Drawing on modern experimental evidence of the functional significance of animal color strategies, Diamond and Bond offer striking illustrations of how the evolution of features in one organism can be driven by the psychology of others.
Concealing Coloration in Animals takes readers on a scientific adventure that explores creatures inside mats of floating seaweed, mice and lizards on desert rocks and sand, and rare parrots in the rainforest of New Zealand. Color photographs extensively document the mind-boggling array of deceptive strategies animals use to blend in, mislead, or vanish from view.
Diamond and Bond do an excellent job of discussing the evolutionary mechanisms and processes in a simple yet powerful way that should be accessible to nonexperts. They make the subject come alive by telling us not just what we know about camouflage today, but also where the field has come from, and equally importantly the work that has been done to get us here.
If you want to read a scientific thriller then this is your book. Do not expect that, like Hercule Poirot’s cases, you will have a final answer on the last page. You may finish the book with more questions than when you started. That is the fun! This book opens your mind so you will never ‘see’ the world the same way again.
Reading this book stimulated me to think about aspects of my own work in new ways and I would recommend it to all those interested in animal coloration. There is no book that I am aware of that competes with this one… One aspect of this book that distinguishes it from others is the focus on, and insight into, the role of predator cognition in the evolution of concealing coloration. Alan Bond has no equal in this field.
It is a beautifully written exploration of the extraordinary variety of ways in which animals can make life difficult for the visual systems of their predators and prey in order to gain advantage in a natural world red in tooth and claw… Evolution is interwoven throughout the book.
I wish that many school, college, and university teachers read this book because it gives a very appealing collection of exciting stories of true scientific process and progress… Diamond and Bond show how hidden creatures made evolution recognizable.
The authors have read, and are on top of, an immense amount of literature, making a student of coloration like myself envious… I am delighted that I have this volume on coloration in my collection.
Combining a naturalist’s eye with scientific rigor, the authors report on modern experiments on the mechanisms of the selective process that support these observations.
This book is a lovely survey, for the general public, of all that is known about concealing coloration, and very nicely weaves the history of the subjects with the facts.
- 288 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
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