Just one of the random questions I come up with throughout my daily life. Figured i would put it up here, and on Quora, and see if i could enlighten myself, and perhaps others.
I was watching an episode of Deadly 60 with my family when it highlighted yet another underwater animal that could actively change the colour of its skin to fit into its environment. I have always been a big fan of Cuttlefish for their colour and texture changing abilities, and was only recently (5-years-ish) made aware of how well octopuses can accomplish the same feat. But when it come to terrestrial animals, there doesn’t appear to be as many examples. There are Chameleons, Anoles, some frogs and thats really it, at least as far as a quick Wikipedia search can tell me.
Whats more, land based colour changers don’t appear to have the same standard as their waterborne kin. Cuttlefish can change their colours seemingly instantly, they use the pulsating colours across their skin to communicate, and can contort their bodies and the texture of their skin to complete their illusions of camouflage.
So I was wondering; why is this? Is there any biological benefit for a watery environment when dealing with active camouflage, or is are there differing evolutionary pressures that make it harder to adapt on land? Perhaps the mechanisms used to change the pigment cells in water based cephalopods doesn’t work well in the dryness of the land, or maybe the ocean bed is simply better suited for mimicry than the world above.
I don’t know; but I would be delighted if someone could enlighten me.
P.s. One more awesome GIF for the road: