The European viper uses cloak-and-dazzle to escape predators
May 22, 2020
Research of the University of Jyväskylä demonstrates that the characteristic zig-zag pattern on a viper's back performs seemingly opposing functions during a predation event. At first, the zig-zag pattern helps the snake remain undetected. But upon exposure, it provides a conspicuous warning of the snake's dangerous defense. Most importantly the zig-zag can also produce an illusionary effect that may hide the snake's movement as it flees. The research, published in Animal Behaviour in May 2020, reveals how a single color pattern can have multiple effects during a predation event, thereby expanding the discussion on protective coloration and anti-predator adaptations.