This post was edited by dostoevskydr at 2013-7-13 23:00|
Evolution has been going long enough now to give us a range of life so varied that we can’t even begin to comprehend what nature is capable of. Every so often we are reminded of these when we see something so perfect, it simultaneously baffles us and helps us to understand how nature works. Below are the most in-your-face perfect examples of natural selection giving us some absolute triumphs of nature.
The Baron Caterpillar (Euthalia aconthea gurda) is native to India and Southeast Asia. They are about 4mm long with small spikes when they hatch, but as they reach their 4th and 5th stage of growth (known as instars), they can grow to be about 45mm, with much more elongated spikes. These spikes, along with the caterpillar’s colour, allow it to blend in with leaves to avoid predators until it’s ready to mature.
Merlet’s Scorpionfish (Rhinopias Aphanes) have a variety of other names, many of which include the word “lacy”. This is because they have a considerable amount of tentacles and skin flaps, as well as an unusual shape overall, which gives them their so-called lacy look. They use all of these factors to look like plant life, blending in with coral reefs. They will stay still for hours until they get an opportunity to jump out, and inhale their prey with their enormous mouths.
Other names include Lacy Scorpionfish, Weedy Scorpionfish, Merlot Scorpionfish, Lacy Stingfish, Lacy Firefish, Lacy Goblinfish and Lacy Rockfish.
At a whopping 27mm, the Pygmy Seahorse is the Goliath of Hippocampus Denise. Its minuscule size and elaborate camouflage help explain why the first was only discovered in 1969, and that only 6 more have been found since, all after 2000. They can be found 10-40 meters (33-130 feet) deep, mainly off the coasts of Australia, Indonesia, Japan, New Caledonia, Indonesia & Papua New Guinea.
The Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus Strigoides) is a type of owl (in case you’ve been trying to spot a frog for a few minutes) native to Australia. Although they are, unsurprisingly, nocturnal, they have developed a sophisticated method of daytime camouflage: they sit still, close their eyes, stretch their neck and compact their feathers, making them look like a broken tree branch. This is used as a defense mechanism, not for hunting, like some of the other entries. Ironically, the biggest threat to the Tawny Frogmouth is their method of hunting. They mainly eat insects, and since they are nocturnal, insects are most visible in lit up areas. Unfortunately, the most lit up area is often directly in front of a moving car, where many of these birds will probably wish they were easier for us to spot.
Leafy Sea Dragon
Leafy Sea Dragons (Phycodurus eques) are native to the oceans south of Australia. Measuring up to 35cm (13.8 inches), they have long, slender bodies, decorated with elaborate leaf-like appendages to help them blend in with the plant life of the water. They are closely related to sea horses, and should not be confused with their much less spectacular cousins, the aptly named Weedy Sea Dragon.
There are over 200 species of underwing moths, mostly found in eastern North America. They are so called because the second set of wings, those only visible when flying, are bright patterns of orange, yellow red and white, while their first set of wings are usually a mix of gray and brown patterns. Experiments have shown that the moths actually choose trees with bark similar to their own color to better protect themselves. To the left you can also see a Grey Cicada, whose camouflage is a result not only of its coloring, but also its see-through wings.
The Reef Stonefish (Synanceia Verrucosa) are found in the rocky coral of Australian coasts, and can measure up to 50cm (1.6 feet). Needless to say, being from Australia, the fish is one of the most venomous in the world. It can inject venom through any of its 13 spouts. Although nobody has died as a result of their venom since Europeans arrived in Australia, their sting is still extremely painful and dangerous. This makes their camouflage a lot more terrifying. And if you think you can stay safe by keeping out of the water, think again: these fish can survive up to 24 hours on land.