Animal camouflage provides some of the most striking examples of the power of natural selection; it has also long been an inspiration for military camouflage design, with the pioneers of camouflage theory being both artists and natural historians. While the general benefits of camouflage are obvious, understanding the precise means by which the viewer is fooled represent a challenge. This is because animal camouflage is an adaptation to the perception of another animal, often with a visual system different from (and sometimes superior to) that of humans. Innes Cuthill, Professor of Behavioural Ecology at the University of Bristol, explains how perception shapes the evolution of animal colours and how camouflage can help us understand the minds of other species.
Innes Cuthill has been Professor of Behavioural Ecology at the University of Bristol since 1998. After a first degree in Zoology at Cambridge and a D.Phil. at Oxford, he held a Junior Research Fellowship at Brasenose College Oxford then moved to a lectureship in Bristol in 1989. Most of his work is strongly interdisciplinary, in the last decade focusing on the interplay between animal colour vision and animal coloration. In 1998 he won the Scientific Medal of the Zoological Society of London, and in 2005 the Nature (Nature Publishing Group) and NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) award for mentoring in science; he was President of the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour from 2007 to 2010 and is currently one of the senior editors of the leading journal Proceedings of the Royal Society, Biological Sciences.