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The Nature HandbookA Guide to Observing the Great Outdoors$
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Ernest H. Williams Jr.

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195179293

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195179293.001.0001

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The Nature Handbook

Ernest H. Williams

Oxford University Press

To us, the most conspicuous feature of an animal is its appearance because, as visually oriented creatures, we perceive and respond quickly to varying colors and patterns. This chapter includes descriptions of animal colors and patterns, including physiological explanations of what produces the colors we see and ideas about the evolution of these patterns. Some colors and patterns are not very common in nature (bioluminescence, false heads, and aggressive mimicry), but they are spectacular to see. Others (seasonal forms, countershading) are common but subtle, and those having to do with deception (eyespots, camouflage) can be remarkable. Taken together, these appearances suggest that people are not the only living creatures responding strongly to what can be seen; clearly, vision is very important to many animals.

Keywords:   appearance, bioluminescence, seasonal forms, mimicry, countershading, camouflage, vision, eyespots

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