Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Fool's Day - Pranksters of the Animal World

Pranksters are not the only ones doing the “fooling” on April Fool’s Day. Several of the Tennessee Aquarium's animals engage in trickery to ward off predators and / or confuse prey.

Photo by Todd Stailey

While epaulette sharks typically reach around 3.5 feet in length, their large eye spots (found on either side of their torso) make them appear to be much larger.  Their ability to camouflage themselves along the sandy bottom makes these large spots appear as if they are the eyes of a much larger sea creature… one that other fish/sharks won’t want to mess with. 
Photo by: Todd Stailey
 Butterflies and moths use similar features to keep predators away.  The tawny owl gets is common name from the large eyespots on the hind wing.  These spots are used to startle predators.
Photo by: Thom Benson

The giant Pacific octopus is the largest known octopus species. Like many octopi, the giant Pacific octopus has the ability to drastically change the color and texture of its skin.  These abilities not only help the octopus camouflage, but they can also be used to communicate warnings to other octopi.
Photo by: Bill Hughes
Alligator snapping turtles are freshwater turtles that have a special way of “fooling” their prey.  To catch a fish, the turtle will sit very still in the depths of a pond or river for up to 50 minutes. There it waits patiently, holding its mouth open and wiggling the small, pink, worm-like appendage on its tongue to lure passing fish. And if a fish sees the fake worm and swims in to eat it...Wham! The fish becomes the dinner instead of the diner!

Learn more about color and camouflage during special animal presentations offered daily in Ranger Rick's Backyard Safari at the Tennessee Aquarium.

Have a great day and watch out for pranksters!

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