The delicate mottling of this nightjar (Nyctidromus albicollis), photographed on the nest in the Cockscom river basin, in Belize, allows the eggs to be hatched without being seen. Nightjar are nocturnal insectivores, characterized by flickering flight and huge mouth, kept open while flying to catch moths and other insects.

Focus on this flower: do you notice anything strange? If you can't see it it's not serious, the orchid mantis (Hymenopus coronatus) is a mimicry teacher. Its livery so similar to the flower petals of the rainforests of Indonesia, Malaysia and Sumatra, its original habitat, allows it not only to escape predators, but above all to ensure dinner. Building on orchids - except for a slight wave motion that mimics a plant moved by the wind - it waits for insects to approach the flower to suck its nectar. At that point he immobilizes the prey with the powerful legs armed with thorns, and that's it.

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A gallery on the strangest insects in the world

Other camouflage animals (photos)

Here is the mantis in the "pink" version, laid on an orchid from Borneo, Malaysia.

Although the adult individuals of the shackles of Southeast Asian bushes (fam. Tettigoniidae) resemble in all respects normal crickets, the nymphs, that is the insects in the first phase of life, look like ants (as can be clearly seen here). In this way they manage to disorient predators and have more chance of reaching adulthood.

The nasuta frog Megophrys nasuta lives in the undergrowth of the rainforest, amid a dense carpet of leaves. His disguise helps him blend in with the natural habitat, and more easily grab small lizards and spiders, his usual prey.

Many aquatic animals can take on the colors of their natural habitat, but the camouflage octopus can go even further: in fact it manages to assume the appearance of other marine animals, such as jellyfish, sea snakes and other aquatic creatures. Here we see him "disguised" as a crab, on the seabed of Sulawesi, Indonesia.

The bark grasshopper (Coryphistes ruricola), no more than 5 cm wide, has found a way to completely camouflage itself among the light trees of the Australian vegetation, where it lives. Can you see it in this photo? Look for a couple of antennas, right in the middle of the photo.

They might look like two simple tree trunks, but if you sharpen your sight you will perhaps be able to distinguish a "guest" crouched on the right. It is a "leaf-tailed" gecko from Madagascar (Uroplatus sikorae) immortalized during a moment of rest.

In order not to be disturbed, during the day geckos of the genus Uroplatus - which vary from 30 to 10 centimeters in length - flatten out on the bark of the trees and take on the same color as the surrounding environment. Their leaf-shaped tail completes the work. At night they are more active and are dedicated to hunting for small insects. Unfortunately, however, their mimetic ability has not saved them from extinction: deforestation and illegal trade are decimating these reptiles.

If you don't see it, here's a little help
Try to distinguish other hidden lives

This grasshopper from the Tettigoniidae family was caught on a log in the Sabah jungle, a territory in the large tropical island of Borneo. Even the immobile and squashed posture against the tree helps to make the animal disappear from the sight of predators.

This sole (Solea solea) rests on the bottom and has a crooked face. It almost looks like it's out of a Picasso painting. It is reduced in this way to hide from predators - including man - who are fond of its delicate flesh.

At birth, in fact, it had the appearance of a "normal" fish, with eyes on both sides of the head. But during growth, like any self-respecting sole, it has completely changed its appearance. The body flattened and both eyes moved to the same side.

The result is this not very sexy grimace. So "tanned", however, the cow can look around, crouching in the sands of the Mediterranean, where she lives. When it comes to saving the skin, beauty doesn't count!

Another mimicry magician (try to find him)
Siamese fish

Imagine you are a bee. To identify this beautiful flower and to "lick your chops" at the idea of ‚Äč‚Äčavailable nectar. But suddenly a nasty surprise: a crab spider is there in ambush that waits well camouflaged among the petals ready to eat you. And it will not let go as you are one of its favorite preys and its front legs, to which it owes its name, are really powerful. The true strength of this arachnid (Misumena vatia), however - which lives in North America and Europe and which was chosen in 2006 as the spider of the year by the European Society of Arachnology - lies in the fact that it can become yellow or white in based on the flower on which it is positioned. This ability is all female; only the females of this species, in fact, transferring a pigmented liquid into the cuticle, within a few days they can become white to yellow. So, watch out for the flowers in these two colors, they could hide the fearsome predator spider!

Discover also how they see animals.

At first glance it may look like a wicker twig carried by the wind. But in reality this stick is capable of moving with its legs. It is in fact an insect: the stick insect (ord. Phasmatodea). A real prankster who, in the tropical forests where he lives, loves to make fun of predators, posing as a piece of wood swayed by the currents.

A method that is a bit lazy but that often works (though not always).

And this is just one of the tactics of the insects belonging to this order, which includes over 2, 700 different species. Some stick insects have hind legs covered with spines with which stingers bite. Others instead are endowed with particular glands that secrete a chemical repellent to be sprayed against the enemy.

Face to face with insects (watch)

The frogfish (Antennarius pictus) are not good swimmers and can be recognized for their rather clumsy movements. This does not make it difficult for them to navigate the seabed and survive. Rather. Their technique is infallible and is based on expectation. An amazing ability to blend in gives them the chance to lurk behind a sponge, for example, as in the case of the photo, take their appearance and launch the attack calmly.

Chameleons, like this species from Madagascar of the genus Chamaeleo, are famous for their ability to change skin color and blend in with the environment. In reality the color changes are very slow and do not depend on external conditions, but on the internal state of the animal, which can be frightened, aggressive and courting.

Let no one be a spy! This hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) perfectly camouflaged as a mud mound, does not want to be discovered. Maybe he's hiding from a crocodile or maybe from a fellow man. Because at the expense of their somewhat "sly" air, hippopotamuses are aggressive animals and fighting for the conquest of females is very frequent and bloody among males. And as often happens in the struggles between "warriors", better to die than to lose.

Discover many other curiosities about hippos
Another perfectly hidden animal: can you see it?

Geometrids are nocturnal moths whose color is generally mimetic, brown or green, since the larval state. The caterpillars, born from eggs laid on the bark, on the twigs and stems of the host plants, are already able to blend in perfectly with the environment. These larvae move with typical ring twists.

All camouflage animals, in a splendid photo gallery .

If you ever happen to see a walking coral, sharpen your eyes well. It could actually be a decorator crab (Dromidia antillensis) hidden under one of his strange disguises.

These crustaceans, which live in the more temperate seas, are too minutes to defend themselves from predators, so they have specialized in the art of camouflage, developing a very original technique. First of all they choose from the seabed a sponge, an anemone or a coral and then they load it on the "shoulders" carrying it around here and there, sure not to be recognized. And being very careful not to lose them on the street, although luckily nature has provided them with a special down on the back that "appicciate" the load almost like a natural velcro.

Another animal artfully camouflaged. Can you find it?
Camouflage sole (look)

Looking at it in passing, this photo seems to portray an expanse of sand, but if you look at it you can see the profile of a very flat fish that blends perfectly onto the sandy bottom. It is a plaice (Pleuronectes platessa), a fish that has made mimicry its greatest weapon in the struggle for survival.

Its elongated flat shape and brown livery with shades varying from yellow to red to green and with large orange spots with a white border allow it to blend into the sand and gravel of the seabed where it lives, appearing invisible to the numerous predators (dolphins, seals, sharks, monkfish, but also shrimp and jellyfish).

But not only: the eyes of the plaice are both on the same side of the body, usually the right one. In this way, the colorless and eye-free side can rest on the sand, keeping its visual capacity intact.

Do not lose:

All the photogalleries and videos on mimicry, from insects to the transforming octopus

The funniest animals of the abyss in this photogallery.

If the dead leaf praying mantis (Deroplatys truncata) could choose its favorite season, it would probably lean towards autumn: in this period in fact it could easily hide in the fallen leaves to which it so much resembles. This astute husband-eating - which prefers the humid climate of Malaysia, Borneo and Indonesia - has entered so well into the part of the plant that, if disturbed, it oscillates slightly like a leaf at the first breath of wind. When instead it feels threatened, it drops to the ground and remains motionless, blending into the true dry leaves: thus frogs, monkeys, birds and small snakes, its main predators, remain dry-mouthed.

While mantis mimicry serves as a self-defense mechanism, it is also true that it is used as a surprise during ambushes to one's victims. This is the case of the Phillocranya Paradoxa mantis, whose color and appearance allow it to blend in perfectly, making it look like a plant and allowing it to study its prey in complete tranquility, before taking the deadly blow.

To not end up under the teeth of polar bears, arctic or white foxes (Alopex lagopus) are supplied with a thick livery that in winter becomes as white as snow and allows them to blend into the thick blanket of snow. They are also provided with a thick layer of fur under their legs: some of them, in search of rodents or carcasses to eat, also travel more than 1, 000 kilometers on ice with temperatures reaching forty degrees below zero.

Look at it well because without the help of a photographic zoom this frog (Theloderma corticale) is practically impossible to find.

This is thanks to its bumpy skin full of green and brownish protrusions that recalls the texture and colors of moss. The ideal disguise to perfectly disguise yourself in the humid tropical forests of Vietnam, where it lives.

Seeing it up close is therefore a rather rare event, and not only because of its mimetic abilities: the progressive deforestation of its natural habitat is seriously endangering its survival, especially as this tree frog - which as an adult is about 7 centimeters long - it often lurks and reproduces inside the trunks of trees, in cavities where some rain water is deposited.

Moreover, the particular structure of its skin often makes it the subject of an illegal trade that forcibly removes it from its ecosystem.

The whole wrinkle look of a Peruvian frog
A frog that certainly does not go unnoticed: it is blue!

Nature has made it really ugly. And as if an awkward big face weren't enough, evolution has thought to make it even bad and dangerous. In fact, this tropical fish, a close relative of our Lucerne, is equipped with several venomous spines positioned on its back. It is not mortal but to run into the spines of Uranoscopus sulphurous, this is its scientific name, causes strong pains. So, look at where you put your feet because this fish spends its time well hidden in the sand protected by its camouflage livery; only the eyes appear that allow him to see, unseen, his prey approaching. And it would be better not to be one of them.

The leaves are among the favorite subjects of mimetic animals, such as this grasshopper from the Tettigonidae family. In addition to the shape, the butterfly also mimics the color and even the veins of a leaf. The insect also aligns along the trunk just like the leaves do. Like almost all grasshoppers, this one is also vegetarian.

The white partridge (Lagopus sp.) Is one of the most mimetic alpine species. In winter its plumage is completely white and mingles with the snow covering the peaks. In summer it changes the color of the feathers and becomes mottled brown, similar to the color of the undergrowth, of the bushes and of the alpine meadows.

You might also like: The prehistoric stick insect that mutated among the dinosaurs. Say "cheese": the most beautiful photos of wild animals taken by hidden cameras. The live birth of the world's most rare stick insect. Invisible insects. The delicate mottling of this nightjar (Nyctidromus albicollis), photographed on the nest in the Cockscom river basin, in Belize, allows the eggs to be hatched without being seen. Nightjar are nocturnal insectivores, characterized by flickering flight and huge mouth, kept open while flying to catch moths and other insects.