Spots and stripes are both a type of camouflage
called disruptive coloration. The spots and
stripes break up what would otherwise be a solid
color, making the animal look less like a large
target and help it blend into the background.
Spots are especially useful for hiding in long
Another way that spots and stripes
work as camouflage is by confusing the predator.
If a predator spots a zebra, say, and recognizes
it as prey, chances are the predator will fixate
on the stripes as it stalks the zebra.
the zebra senses the predator and runs away, the
white and black stripes blur into a gray
background and the predator immediately looses
target. Predators are usually very good at
movement, but the initial split second of
confusion may be enough time to allow the zebra
escape. If you ever get a chance to go snorkeling
or diving in tropical waters, you'll notice that
most of the colorful butterfly fish on coral
have disruptive camouflage (either spots or
stripes or both).
Lastly, a stripe
the eye and lots of dark spots on the body help
hide the eyes of prey, so the predator may become
confused about which end is the head. Why would
this be a good thing to hide from the predator?
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