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Sometimes, the best way to avoid being predated upon is to fool others into thinking that you don’t exist at all.  Many fish species use a variety of tactics to blend into their background, from the red/blue countershading of our humble neon and cardinal tetras, to breaking up their outline using horizontal or vertical stripes.  Mimicry is used to the greatest effect by the leafy sea dragon.  With seaweed-like extensions covering its body, and a colour to match, this fish is almost indistinguishable from the patches of seaweed it hides in.  However, some fish find themselves in variable environments where the substrate texture or colour differs from place to place.  The ability to change one’s appearance, such as that exhibited by the peacock flounder, is known as active camouflage.  This flatfish can actively change the coloration of its visible surface to blend in regardless of what the environment looks like.  More remarkably, they visually evaluate their surroundings and have such fine control over their coloration, they’ve even been shown to approximate the pattern of a chess board when it was placed in their environment.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

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Tagged in: Aquatic Adaptations