Who's eating my eggs

October 23, 2013
Banded mongoose. Credit: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

Nature, as the great poet Tennyson reminded us, is a violent place, or "red in tooth and claw", as he put it. One of the mechanisms animals use to avoid a bloody end is camouflage – blending in with the background – to avoid predators.

But what makes for good ? How do factors such as patterning work to fool the senses of wily attackers?

This short video is a brief introduction to the ongoing work of Professor Martin Steven's Sensory Ecology and Evolution group at the University of Exeter, along with Claire Spottiswoode at the University of Cambridge, who are examining egg and camouflage in habitats in South Africa and Zambia. Steven's colleagues, including Dr Jolyon Troscianko, have set up hidden cameras to record egg predation events in different bird species.

Avoiding your eggs being eaten is a matter of life and death to many animals, but the research helps improve our fundamental understanding of vision and could have wide-ranging applications, from bioscience to security and defence. Animal camouflage has also influenced human behaviour and culture, including art, fashion and the military.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Who's eating my eggs? (trailer)

A full in-depth feature on the project will appear on BBSRC's YouTube channel when the field work is completed in the coming months.

Explore further: A convincing mimic: Scientists report octopus imitating flounder in the Atlantic (w/ Video)

Related Stories

Octopuses focus on key features for successful camouflage

May 23, 2012

Octopuses camouflage themselves by matching their body pattern to selected features of nearby objects, rather than trying to match the entire larger field of view, according to new research published in the open access journal ...

Quail really know their camouflage

January 17, 2013

When it comes to camouflage, ground-nesting Japanese quail are experts. That's based on new evidence published online on January 17 in Current Biology that mother quail "know" the patterning of their own eggs and choose laying ...

Recommended for you

Volcanic bacteria take minimalist approach to survival

August 4, 2015

New research by scientists at the University of Otago and GNS Science is helping to solve the puzzle of how bacteria are able to live in nutrient-starved environments. It is well-established that the majority of bacteria ...

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Four million years at Africa's salad bar

August 3, 2015

As grasses grew more common in Africa, most major mammal groups tried grazing on them at times during the past 4 million years, but some of the animals went extinct or switched back to browsing on trees and shrubs, according ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.