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Amazing Leaf-Mimicking Animals

Amazing Leaf-Mimicking Animals

One of the best strategies for avoiding being eaten by predators is to hide in plain sight. But there’s camouflage and there is camouflage. These species go beyond just blending into the background, they practically become one with it, disguising themselves so well as leaves that you could spend hours looking at a tree without realizing you’re looking at more than just the tree itself!

Leaf-mimicking insects

Insects are old hats at mimicking leaves to fool predators. In fact, the strategy may have begun as far back at 47 million years ago and hasn’t changed a whole lot since then. After all, if you’ve already made yourself look like a leaf, the bulk of the evolutionary work is done. Sonja Wedmann of the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universitat in Bonn, Germany, says, “This absence of evolutionary change is an outstanding example of morphological and, probably, behavioral stasis.”

Some of the more well known leaf-mimicking insects include some katydids, praying mantis, butterflies and moths. But the variety of species and their strategies, from size to shape to color, are as diverse as the leaves they mimic.

DiscoveringNewSpecies/CC BY 3.0

Hudson Museum of Natural History/CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Hudson Museum of Natural History/CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Adriatica!/CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Anne Toal/CC BY 3.0

gmach/CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Josiah Townsend/CC BY-ND-NC 1.0

ggallice/CC BY 3.0

balharsh/CC BY-NC 3.0


ggallice/CC BY 3.0

Andreas Kay/CC BY-NC-SA 3.0


Leaf-Mimicking Lizards

Insects are the only ones that have figured out the brilliance of blending into the leaf-littered background. These lizards have also perfected their own strategies.

wren el renegade/CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

bbum/CC BY-ND-NC 1.0

Leaf-Mimcking Geckos

Leaf-tail geckos are amazing at blending into the background. Different species have developed different ways of camouflaging themselves depending on the leaves that surround them, and each is as impressive as the next.

David dO/CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

wallygrom/CC BY-SA 3.0

muzzanese/CC BY-NC 3.0

reibai/CC BY 3.0

gr0uch0/CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

wallygrom/CC BY-SA 3.0

Sadly, they may be good at hiding, but not good enough — according to Wikipedia: “Most are threatened due to deforestation and habitat loss, therefore more are taken out of the wild [for the pet trade] in areas that are being preped for being cut down. The World Wide Fund for Nature lists all the Uroplatus species on their “Top ten most wanted species” list of animals threatened by illegal wildlife trade, because of it ‘being captured and sold at alarming rates for the international pet trade’.”

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Read more: Nature, Nature & Wildlife

By Jaymi Heimbuch

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Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, and, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.


+ add your own
11:42AM PDT on Apr 6, 2015

Brilliant; thanks so much for sharing. I had to take a second look at the yellow leaf, just beautiful.

4:55AM PDT on Sep 10, 2014

thanks for sharing :)

4:54PM PST on Feb 15, 2014

amazing critters

2:07AM PST on Feb 4, 2014

I can watch this article again and again! They are really amazing!

12:37PM PST on Jan 4, 2014

Isn't Nature grand? So beautiful and brilliant.

1:26PM PST on Dec 25, 2013

That is a great article, thanks !

2:02PM PST on Dec 18, 2013

This is like a miracle to look at these photos .

9:53AM PST on Dec 18, 2013

Very Interesting

11:02PM PST on Dec 16, 2013

very nice

6:22PM PST on Dec 16, 2013

truly amazing

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