Invisible: The high-vis trick that blinds the eye

 作者:祝匕     |      日期:2019-03-01 08:14:03
By Ed Yong The best-hidden creatures wear high-vis outfits (Image: Jim Richardson/National Geographic Creative) For animals like zebras, being conspicuous is the best way to avoid becoming dinner. New research shows how it helps soldiers and citizens hide in plain sight 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. Predators, he reasoned, locate their prey by looking for their outlines, so animals with high-contrast markings that disrupt telltale edges and create false ones can evade detection. With this and other ideas about animal markings, Thayer earned himself the title “father of camouflage”. But although disruptive camouflage was cited in countless textbooks, it remained largely untested until 2005, when Innes Cuthill, Martin Stevens and their colleagues at the University of Bristol, UK, devised an experiment using fake moths made from paper triangles. By pinning them to oak trees,