Thanks to camouflage, animals stay alive on the mean streets of the wilderness. Years of natural selection gave animals the perfect attributes to blend into their surroundings with ease, seemingly altering reality. In nature, what you see is not always what you get—animals make sure of that.
With perfected fur coats, animals make themselves impossible for predators, prey, and curious humans to spot. And when their natural camouflage options fail? Animals have more creative ways of blending in with the environment and raising eyebrows in the process!
1. Mother-of-four Bianca Dickinson didn’t notice the snake lying in wait behind her daughter Molly until she’d already taken a few photographs—can you spot the deadly reptile?
2. The average wild giraffe lives for about 25 years, thanks in part to its brilliant camouflage. Dark spots on tan fur make the mammals blend in with the dry plains brush and all its shadows. Just see how long it takes to find the giraffe below!
3. Animals have a way of messing with your eyes, even without camouflage. This dog posed for a photo at the right moment, and, for a second, stole headlines with graceful en pointe ballet moves.
4. When you aren’t born with a natural camouflage, you’ve got to work with what you’re given. This pooch did just that, commanding an army of stuffed lookalikes so he could slide from view.
5. Alpacas are people, too. At least, you might think so if you only saw this perfectly timed photo. This was certainly a unique take on camouflage, but you’d do anything possible to hide, too, if your fur was three times warmer than wool!
6. Somewhere amidst the stacks of wood, a sleepy kitty snoozed the day away. Sure, the kitty wasn’t born with the perfect camouflage, but on that day, he made it work!
7. The Alaskan State Bird—the willow ptarmigan sports brown feathers in the summertime, but come winter, its plumage shifts to white. That makes it tough to spot in the below photo.
8. Just when little Timmy thought he understood goats, he saw this pair that seemingly merged into one. If a single goat can jump over 12 feet, how far could this chimera leap?
9. Only arctic wolves use camouflage to hide from predators. The rest of them, like the guy hiding below, blend in to better sneak up on their prey. Can you spot the wolf before it’s too late for you?
10. Ambushing unsuspecting prey is easy when you’re a cheetah: yellowed fur and black spots let you melt effortlessly into the dry brush and shadows. While she’s tough to spot in the picture below, at night, she’d be practically invisible.
11. A bite from a copperhead snake injects enough venom to send any human to the hospital. Experts say it’s best to avoid them altogether, but good luck spotting the one below, first.
12. Adventurers spent decades searching for mythical mermaids, aquatic creatures with the top half of a human female and the tail of a fish. They should’ve been searching for the opposite—it’s all about the fish heads!
13. Coyotes pepper the entirety of the United States and blend into countless environments, too. The coyote below practically dissolved into the snowy landscape.
14. Owls use asymmetrical ears to locate precisely where their prey may be lurking in the shadows. But good luck locating this perfectly camouflaged owl!
15. When an impala spots a predator—a lion, for instance—it barks a warning to its herd; the fleet runners then sprint away, leaping 10 feet in the air over obstacles if need be. They’re tough to catch—and tough to spot, too. Just try to find the impala below.
16. Another alpaca desperate to hide his precious coat, this camelid took the “hidden animals” motif a little too seriously. He went all David Copperfield on the people and made his body disappear.
17. Though it’s called a nighthawk, the bird hiding below actually belongs to the nightjar family. It boasts such elite camouflage skills that the bird doesn’t make a nest for its young: it practically disappears as soon as it touches down.
18. Centaurides may be creatures of myth, but with the help of a good boy and a noble steed, these women were living legends, walking on four legs like Chiron himself.
19. Cheetah cubs sport grey manes down their backs, which tricks would-be predators into thinking they’re dangerous honey badgers. When they lose their mantle, they rely on their spots and fur to meld into the landscape. Try and find the cheetah below!
20. You might have seen a blue-crowned parrot in the 1998 film Paulie, but thanks to its blue head and green feathers—a necessity for survival in savanna-like habitats—you might not see one in this photo!
Animals have a way of blending in and making us think twice. Are you so sure there isn’t one hiding behind you right now?
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