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Question of the Day: Common Core: 7th Grade English Language Arts

The animal kingdom is made up of creatures of all shapes, sizes, and colors. While we may see color as little more than decoration, animals use their colors in three key ways: to hide, to deceive, and to attract.

The first purpose of color in the animal kingdom, to hide, is perhaps the most commonly known. Animals use a variety of colorations to camouflage themselves or to obscure their shapes from predators. For instance, the owl is often colored and patterned to match the bark of its tree of choice to better blend into its surroundings when perched. The leafy seadragon, an aquatic example of a species employing color to hide, uses its blue-green coloration and leaf-like protrusions to blend into the aquatic foliage of its ecosystem. But perhaps no species is better known for its ability to use color to hide than the chameleon, which can change color to blend into its surroundings. In fact, the chameleon is so well-known for this trait that its name has become a term that is now generally used to refer to one who “changes to fit/blend in.”

Deception is the second function of color in animals. Animals have been known to use their colors and patterns to deceive potential predators and prey. The hemeroplanes triptolemus, otherwise known as the aptly named “snake mimic caterpillar,” uses large, eye-like colorations on its underbelly to flip over and appear snake-like and thus more intimidating to predators. The orchid mantis is another fascinating example of deception in the animal kingdom. Brightly colored in hues of pink and purple, the mantis contorts itself to appear flower-like as it awaits its prey. When pollinators come around expecting a flower to feed on, they are in for a surprise, as the mantis sits ready to strike.

Animals don’t always use their colors to become less pronounced or to hide their true forms from predators or prey. They can also use colors to attract. Bright colorations in animals are used to both attract mates, and to attract attention from and send a warning to potential predators. Many species of birds are known to use bright colorations to attract potential female mates. Additionally, poisonous creatures might be seen with bright colorations and patterns to warn potential predators to leave them be! In fact, many non-poisonous animals have taken this “attract attention” purpose and melded it with “deception” to use their bright coloration to appear poisonous and thus dangerous to predators - even though they are completely harmless!

When it comes to animal colorations, there’s more than meets the eye. With bright colors to attract a mate or ward off a foe, patterns to obscure one’s form and markings that can make even the most harmless bug look like a terrifying creature, animals use color in many ways to better their chances of survival in the wild.

According to the passage, the author would be most likely to describe the colors of animals as

Useless

Impractical

Purposeless

Functional

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