Early Cretaceous insect camouflage
Research Review By:
Engel, Michael S. Division of Entomology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas.
- Camouflage and the fossil record
- Camouflage among insects
- Early Cretaceous camouflage of green lacewings
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The ability to move about undetected is a remarkable asset. To the cloaked individual, it immediately confers an advantage over those individuals who are not so endowed. Hiding oneself comes in a variety of forms, ranging from camouflage to outright mimicry, and is a considerably complicated evolutionary transition to achieve. In any manifestation, the evolution of disguise involves concerted changes in behavior, morphology, and sometimes physiology and biochemistry. Although spectacular examples abound of cryptic morphologies, ranging from mimetic stick insects and thorn bugs to various beetles and flies mimicking stinging wasps, the use of exogenous (external) materials for camouflage is much less widespread. Camouflage involves the use of materials that conceal the body and resemble the surroundings of the local environment. In some instances, the construction of a nest can serve similar purposes, with the materials of the structure blending into the surrounding environment and thereby acting as an indirect form of camouflage. However, direct and purposeful camouflage of the body, independent of a refuge or roost, is more uncommon and embodies a very different series of behavioral and anatomical attributes, as well as a fundamentally divergent suite of underlying genetic and physiological components.
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