Predator and Prey Bizarre Animal Defenses

9/24/2009 01:16:00 AM ·

Evolution in the animal kingdom has caused species to partake in an armed race, which ultimately causes their adaptive traits to change over time within their gene pool. This trait may have been caused as a side affect of another adaptive mechanism or the dominate trait took over the adapted to protect the animal.

In many cases, a new bizarre defense can hinder an animals behavior or a relationship between a predator and it's prey can change which then presents another problem for the weaker of the animals.

If the species cannot adapt to the environment with their new trait, they will go extinct, therefore allowing the species with that new trait that are adaptable to inhabit the pool.

This idea of Natural selection is one of the cornerstones of modern biology and was introduced by Charles Darwin in his 1859 groundbreaking book "Origin of the Species". This book explained the process by which the desirable traits of animals and plants are favored by the environment.

Goldenrod Spider

The Goldenrod spider changes colors by secreting a liquid yellow pigment into the outer cell layer of the body. On a white base, this pigment is transported into lower layers, so that inner glands, filled with white guanine, become visible. This defense, as you can see, allows to capture insects that are completely unaware that the spider has masked itself within the flower.

Peppered Moth

Image via Wikipedia


The peppered moth comes in two forms, both white and molted. Before the industrial Revolution, they were commonly found with just a white coloration, however due to the pollution in the factories the molted coloration became for common. In all actuality, the molted trait allowed this species to blend with the environment, therefore this camouflage became the dominant trade.

Carolina Anole

When an anole is nervous, they will begin to turn a dark brown. Green means that an anole is happy, healthy, or relaxed. Some anoles, when relaxed, on a hot day will turn a soft yellow-green in color. There are many shades of brown and green. The darker the shade of brown, the more stressed, cold, or possibly ill the lizard is. Of course, when you take into account the defenses of this creature, having the ability to change into so many colors allows them to blend into the ever changing environment.

Hammerhead Shark

Image via Wikipedia

Hammerhead sharks, amongst many other species of shark, are darker colored on their dorsal side and lighter on their ventral. This coloration allows them to blend with the colors of the sea, as well as warding off predators from below. Also, the head is mostly used to make swift turns while looking for food, therefore the movements and placements of the eyesockets are not a predatory defense. However, there are electroreceptory sensory pores called ampullae embedded throughout the body which allows them to detect prey by a type of sonar.

Rock Ptarmigan

Image via Wikipedia

The ptarmigan lives in a snow covered environment for most of the year, so white plumage on their ventral side allows them to blend. However, when the snow melts their dorsal feathers change colors to a light brown. What's fascinating about these creatures is that they act very much like assassins, covering themselves up with dirt and mud, with only an eyeball showing.

Variegated Urchins


The variegated urchin tends to pick up debris such as sand and shells and holds them over their body like an umbrella to avoid detection. They also use this defense to protect themselves against sharks and other predators.



Hagfish are the slimiest fish in the ocean, which of course is a very bizarre and useful defense. When they are overly stressed or being attacked, they will produce an enormous amount of mucous and the predator can not get a hold of them and may suffocate. Hagfish will also tie themselves in an overhand knot so when the predator tries to take hold, the slime makes it easier to get free.

Bluelashed Butterflyfish


The butterflyfish has dark, rounded spots on it's caudal side, which fools the predator into thinking it's biting the head, instead of the tail. If the fish does get bitten it will still be able to swim away injured.

Monarch Butterfly

Image via Wikipedia

The Monarch is not typically toxic, although the plants that it consumes are. The butterfly will store the toxins in their tissues, therefore when a bird or or another predator tries to eat it they will fall ill. Although the bright coloration of the butterfly is an attraction for predators, the fowl taste usually allows for the Monarch to remain unharmed.

Tephritid Fly

Jumping Spider


The tephritid fly resembles the jumping spider in that it waves it's antennae to warn other flys that a predator is near. If the fly encounters a spider and mimics the same behavior, it avoids being attacked and even eaten.

Adelie Penguins


When Adelie penguins leave their breeding grounds to feed, they form small groups and jump into the water together. Doing this allows the penguins to escape a seal attack considering it's more difficult for the seal to capture a group, rather than one individual penguin. While swimming in the groups, the penguins are able to reach their feeding ground.

Hognose Snake



The Hognose snake will flip on it's back and roll up if being attacked. It will release an odor resembling a dead animal, therefore it wards away predators and no one likes the taste of spoiled meat.

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