NPR logo Camouflaged Creatures: Blending In To Stay Alive

National Geographic

Camouflaged Creatures: Blending In To Stay Alive

"The rain forest is really messy," says photographer Christian Ziegler. Armed with a camera and a headlamp, he would plunge into the wilds of Panama at night, foraging for what look like sticks and leaves. But when the sticks started crawling and the leaves walked up branches or hopped about the forest floor, Ziegler knew to raise his camera.

No, it's not magic, it's mimicry. Ziegler, first a tropical ecologist, then a photographer, was working on a story for the August issue of National Geographic magazine. "The Art of Deception" is a tale of evolutionary marvels: insects and creatures so well adapted to blend in with their surroundings that they practically disappear during the day.

National Geographic provided The Picture Show with desaturated images to show these creatures in relief. Click through the gallery to see them emerge from hiding. Learn more about mimicry behavior from the photographer in this National Geographic interactive.

Ziegler is an associate for communication at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. View more of his photos on his Web site.

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