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A Peacock’s Stunning Train Helps it Evade Capture, Study Shows

posted: 04/24/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Peacock with tail displayed.
Back 2 Back Productions/DCI

New research is finally helping scientists understand why animals such as peacocks, kingfishers and dragonflies sport gorgeous, iridescent colors, a quality known as interference coloration. A new study published by University of Lincoln's Dr. Thomas Pike shows that creatures' gorgeous hues confuse predators and make it more difficult to judge their movement, thereby increasing the likelihood of survival in a life or death situation.

To test his theory, Pike presented Japanese quail with a variety of virtual insects on a tablet. The quail were more likely to accurately peck at "normal" colored insects; it took more effort for them to peck at iridescent-hued prey, and their pecks were noticeably less accurate.

"Animals with conspicuous coloration, such as contrasting stripes, have been shown to be protected from predators, possibly because they find it hard to judge their speed and movement. It stuck me that the conspicuous colors displayed by iridescent animals may also allow them to evade predators using a similar mechanism," remarked Pike.

Click here for more information from University of Lincoln

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