Cryptic

Cryptic coloration or even body shape is an important adaptation and it seems to be even more important in the tropics. Elsewhere most insects seem to get by with just a drab coloring (unless it’s a butterfly or something else with warning coloration). Sure, there’s an occasional stick insect in the temperate zone, or a leaf-shaped Katydid but tropical insects seem to push such adaptations to the edge.

Being cryptic can be as simple as being a dull brown or green color and as complex as being an animal that looks exactly like a dead leaf when staying still (I encountered this specific adaptation in Madagascar with the leaf-tailed gecko, Uroplatus sp.).

The adaptive reason for being cryptic is pretty obvious and straight forward: for some species, it’s a means of not being eaten for others it’s a means of sneaking closer to grab a prey species unawares for some it’s both. Erin and I have seen a few cryptic animals since we’ve been here, mostly insects but a few other classes as well. I’ve included pics of some of the best. Besides just being cryptic, many of the animals here are shy and wary of humans. We’ve seen monkeys (White-fronted Capuchins, Cebus albifrons) but only once; early in the morning and on one of the stretches of trail farthest from the lodge. Erin’s seen just the tail end of a quick moving mammal while hiking alone, we’ve both heard but never seen the noises of startled Pecarries right off the trail (Pecarries have good reason to hide from humans as they’re commonly hunted for meat, since they closely resemble pigs). I recently saw near the river the sprinting form of what I took to be a Basilisk lizard (Basiliscus Sp.) but it was too quick for me to be sure. It can be hard to see wildlife in the cloud forest (or any forest) so keeping eyes and ears open is important.

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