Monday, February 20, 2017

Countershading [Daily Photo #325]

I knew how stripes and spots were a type of camouflage, but I didn't fully understand why so many animals had lighter tummies. Easy to get it with marine life, say, penguins. When a penguin is swimming, its lighter tummy blends in with the sky if you look from below. But why do antelopes have lighter undersides, then? Not many creatures would be looking at them from below. =D So I read this, and turns out it's called countershading and is an efficient camouflage, too (although there are other theories as to its role).

“When light falls from above on a uniformly coloured three-dimensional object such as a sphere, it makes the upper side appear lighter and the underside darker, grading from one to the other. This pattern of light and shade makes the object appear solid, and therefore easier to detect. The classical form of countershading, discovered in 1909 by the artist Abbott Handerson Thayer, works by counterbalancing the effects of self-shadowing, again typically with grading from dark to light. In theory this could be useful for military camouflage, but in practice it has rarely been applied, despite the best efforts of Thayer, and later, in the Second World War, of the zoologist Hugh Cott.”

Conveniently, Schelich animal figurines are very realistic in colouring, so I can use them for illustration. ^u^

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