The 6 Stealthiest Disguises in the Animal Kingdom

#3. Bargibanti's Seahorse Is One With the Coral

lisa collins/iStock/Getty Images

Because Bargibanti's pygmy seahorse stands a whopping 2 centimeters (0.79 inches) high, it's one of the world's smallest members of an already adorably tiny species. Look at him!

David Doubilet
And is that a baby bump we see?

If you're not already picturing Ant Man slapping some tiny reins on that sucker and riding it about, well -- you are now. Unfortunately, its diminutive size means the pygmy seahorse has got its work cut out for it in the defense department. Luckily, its ability to perfectly camouflage itself against gorgonian coral (where it lives) also makes it one of the hardest creatures to spot. In fact, the species was discovered only after scientists began sorting through collected coral specimens and stumbled across the tiny seahorses stuck along the coral's branches.

Their bulbous tubercles (or big, colored moles, for us non-thinky-word types) match the color and shape of the pygmy's host coral exactly, while the body matches that of the coral's stem. There are even two color variations in the species: gray with red tubercles and yellow with orange tubercles.

Dtamarack/iStock/Getty Images
Opposing subspecies engage in bitter, adorable turf wars.

The color scheme of the seahorse depends on that of the coral it hangs on -- because, come on, establishing a color palette is the first rule of interior decorating. What seahorse doesn't know that?

#2. The Common Baron Caterpillar Is Invisible on Leaves

University of Agricultural Sciences Bangalore

This is a Euthalia aconthea, or common baron butterfly caterpillar.

Mangrove Resort langogan Palawan
Its legs have legs because don't ask.

Well, that's the opposite of subtle. It's like a neon sign advertising an all-you-can-eat-me buffet. Now take a look once it's positioned itself just right on a leaf.

Navaneeth Edukeralam
Unless you like eating mango leaves, it's safe forever.

Native to India and Southeast Asia, the common baron caterpillar, much like pink video game mushball Kirby, eats the leaves of mango trees and then becomes them. It aligns those fuzzy-TV-antennae-looking appendages with the outer veins on the leaf, and then adjusts the stripe down the middle of its body until it matches up perfectly with the midrib. Sure, that poor bastard above has a handful of backwards appendages, but give him a break -- he's doing pretty well for a stupid caterpillar. Despite his half-assing it, looking at him from above or from a distance, you'd never know he was there.

Even from the sides it's easy to miss the caterpillar in this picture:

Suzanna Setiawaty
Just a tumescent leaf. Nothing to see here.

As advertised, these butterflies are common and are often found (assuming you can find them) in urban areas. So the next time you're walking around a city park in Singapore, you'd better think twice about stealing a mango. No, not because of the caterpillars -- they're harmless -- but the authorities cane the shit out of you over there for graffiti. You'd probably get bull-whipped for grand theft mango.

#1. Ocyale Guttata Spiders Are Probably Just Waiting for You to Go Outside Barefoot

Piet Grobler

There is a spider in that photo.

There are, perhaps, many spiders in that photo. Who could tell?

Proving yet again that venturing outdoors without proper footwear is the sole providence of drunkards, hippies, and fools, we give you Ocyale guttata. This species of wolf spider blends so seamlessly into the type of gravel common in children's sandboxes and the shower areas of public beaches that you'll likely never even know one's around until it takes your child and/or feet.

Piet Grobler
On the driveway, no one can hear you scream .

Wolf spiders are the nomadic serial killers of the spider world, and you won't find them lurking in a corner or hiding away in a dark tool shed like cowards. They spin no webs, preferring to prowl the open ground looking for prey to throttle. The females don't let a little thing like childcare slow them down, either -- they stuff their eggs into a sac and drag it around like a nightmarish Baby Bjorn until it's time for them to hatch. Thousands of little invisible roving spiders. Now, look back up to the first image in this entry. Try to spot it. Do your best.

Took you a few seconds, right? How many seconds, exactly, do you think the spider needs?

Piet Grobler
Spiders don't know how to count. They don't need to.

This is your one and only warning: DO NOT TRUST THE LITTERBOX.


Monte Richard is a slumlord who sometimes writes about slumlording. E. Reid Ross is a columnist at Man Cave Daily, and the proud father of a brand new baby Twitter account that you can coo at here. Carly Brooke is the animal-obsessed author of The Featured Creature, where little-known species become known. You can follow her on Twitter here.

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Related Reading: Mother Nature hasn't emptied her costume bin yet. Check out these frogfish who hunt with fake lures. And then there's this spider who hides as bird shit. Tired of sneaky animals? Check out the craziest disguises in the history of war.

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