Animal Hide and Seek: Camoflage and Mimicry

Camouflage:  Hide and Seek

On Thursday we learned about how animals use camouflage and mimicry to adapt to their environments and increase their chances of survival. Students took a trip through oceans, forests, and rainforests to learn all about how animals have developed different types of camouflage to better adapt to their habitats.  Students enjoyed finding hidden animals and discussing specific kinds of animals that have developed exceptionally impressive types of camouflage.  Students were also intrigued by the concept of natural selection as a mechanism for these evolved traits.

We also learned about animal mimicry, an adaptation in which an organism evolves to look like another, and we discussed the reasons why this might happen.   Examples of mimicry include a tasty and harmless moth evolving to look like a wasp or a nonvenomous snake evolving to have the same colors as a venomous snake.

We wrapped up our lesson with a fun camouflage hunting game in which student hunters, stranded on a remote island, had to develop hunting techniques to identify and successfully capture their food for survival. The idea was to test the effect of different colored backgrounds on the number of each color bead (camouflaged prey) taken. This camouflage lesson is always a student favorite!

Below are some snapshots of the “hunters” in action!

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Author

Dr. Catherine Sukow

Dr. Sukow's interest in science education began when she was a teenager, with an extended visit to San Francisco's Exploratorium. In college, she had summer jobs in a similar, smaller, museum. She focused her Master's research at NCSU on the structure of metal silicides on silicon, and her Ph. D. work at Brandeis on the structure of crossbridged actin bundles. While volunteering in her childrens' schools, she was reminded how much fun it is to teach science, and is happy to be teaching now with Science from Scientists. In her spare time, she also enjoys yoga, choral and solo singing, and attempting a variety of international cuisines.

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