TO BECOME invisible, first make yourself conspicuous. It sounds absurd, especially once you learn that this concept was the brainchild of an eccentric American artist. Now, more than a century after it was put forward, the idea is finally being tested. The findings have revealed surprising insights into how camouflage fools – or fails to fool – the eye of the beholder.
In 1909, the prevailing belief was that animals hid themselves by matching their surroundings. Then the painter and naturalist Abbott Handerson Thayer suggested a different mechanism was at work: highly conspicuous markings, such as the zebra's stripes and the oystercatcher's black-and-white plumage, are actually disguises...
The best-hidden creatures wear high-vis outfits (Image: Jim Richardson/National Geographic Creative)