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The colour patterns on an animal's body surface. These are usually tailored to the animal's lifestyle, and have important functions in relation to advertisement, camouflage, mimicry, thermoregulation, and warning.

In the course of evolution, animals develop colour patterns appropriate to their niche, including the visual capabilities of other species in the community. Thus, nocturnal animals are not usually brightly coloured, because the mechanisms of colour vision do not work well in conditions of low illumination. There is often some competition between different pressures of natural selection, usually between the advantages of camouflage and those of conspicuousness. Some animals, such as grasshoppers (Trilophidia sp.), attempt to obtain the best of both worlds by remaining camouflaged when motionless and displaying bright colours when moving. This is called flash coloration.

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.

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