Darwin Day: Celebrating Countershading

It’s Darwin Day today, so I want to celebrate one of my favourite concepts in evolution- countershading!

Countershading is the most kudutastic form of camouflage seen in nature. I especially enjoy the countershading of aquatic animals.

When aquatic things are countershaded, they’re darker on their dorsal side than they are on their ventral side, which doesn’t sound too exciting.

BUT, it means that if you’re hoping to catch and eat something that benefits from countershading, you could struggle to find it. If it’s below you, its dark upper parts will help it to blend in with the dark, dark sea floor. And if it’s above you, you’ll see its light underside… or will you? Because it’ll totally blend in to the sky above! Love.

Penguins are countershaded. Frogs eggs are often laid in water, so they are countershaded too. So are sharks and fish. When I told one of my friends about countershading, she went to check that the fish in her tank were countershaded. She confirmed that they were, so it’s definitely true.

It works for people too. I think I remember something on the news a few weeks ago about a company designing a countershaded wetsuit for surfers, so the sharks won’t get them. Evolving new ways to not be eaten. Life is beautiful.

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