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Camouflage is a method of crypsis – avoidance of observation – that allows an otherwise visible organism or object to remain indiscernible from the surrounding environment through deception. Examples include a tiger's stripes and the battledress of a modern soldier.
Cryptic coloration is the most common form of camouflage, found to some extent in the majority of species. The simplest way is for an animal to be of a color similar to its surroundings. Examples include the "earth tones" of deer, squirrels, or moles (to match trees or dirt), or the combination of blue skin and white underbelly of sharks via countershading (which makes them difficult to detect from both above and below).
Animals produce colors in two ways:
* Biochromes: natural microscopic pigments that absorb certain wavelengths of light and reflect others, creating a visible color that is targeted towards its primary predator.
* Microscopic physical structures, which act like prisms to reflect and scatter light to produce a color that is different from the skin, such as the translucent fur of the Polar Bear, which actually has black skin.
Often what matters most for good cryptic coloration is to break up the outline of a creature's body. In nature, there is a strong evolutionary pressure for animals to blend into their environment or conceal their shape; for prey animals to avoid predators and for predators to be able to sneak up on prey. Natural camouflage is one method that animals use to meet these.