Letter | Published:

The Use of Startling Colours and Noises

Nature volume 44, page 106 | Download Citation

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Abstract

LAST January a friend showed me a smew (Mergus albellus) shot on the Dee, near Chester, the crop of which he had found be full of young flat-fish. He called attention to the dazzling whiteness of the bird's breast, and suggested that it must frighten the fish, and so be a disadvantage to it. A little consideration showed that the effect would be precisely the reverse. As long as the flat-fish remains at rest, its colouring assimilates so closely to the sand on which it lies, and with which it partly covers itself, that it would not be easily seen by the smew. But if, startled by the white object flashing down on it from above, it moves, it is seen at once, and of course captured. Anybody who has ever collected small insects, such as beetles, will admit the truth of this at once.

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Affiliations

  1. Nantyglyn, Colwyn Bay, May 25.

    • ALFRED O. WALKER

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/044106c0

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