Most animals are beautiful. Others are doubly impressive as they can magically transform from one creature to something entirely different. Yes, some animals have perfected the art of completely changing their looks.
Would you believe that there are thought to be at least 8.7 million species in the world? Yes, the planet really is a big place that is filled with all kinds of weird and wonderful creatures. Researches have no idea how many types of animals there are, but it’s thought there could be anywhere between one and two million. That’s a lot of different animals.
The skies, the sea, and the land are all filled with animals. The best bit? Each one is so different from the next. Some love to spread their wings and fly high above the planet while others are so small that you might miss them if you don’t look close enough. So what about the ones that can magically transform into something else? Yes, it seems as though some creatures in the world are straight out of Hogwarts as they change their looks almost on cue. Imagine the possibilities? Sadly, this magic trick is only reserved for a handful of wonderful animals. We can still dream, right?
Pacific tree frog
The Pacific tree frog is mainly seen all across North America and stands out for its sticky toe pads. It can be seen in all different colors, such as bright green and red, but that all changes when the frog lands on something else.
It’s thought this frog is one of the best color-changing animals in the world as it can adapt to suit many different backgrounds. The best bit? It only takes one or two minutes for the frog to change color completely. This means the Pacific tree frog can quickly hide from any hungry birds or snakes on the prowl for their next meal.
There are many reasons that stonefish are so dangerous, with their impressive color-changing skills being just one of the many factors. The fish are covered in colored patches that can all change to match their environment with some turning to a sand color while others prefer to blend in with the bright coral.
That's not all. Stonefish are also the most venomous fish on the planet. They can easily end the life of a human with swelling and excruciating pain being just two of the symptoms you might face. The fish might be small, but it takes a lot of antivenom for anyone to make a full recovery from a sting.
It might not be tough to see how stick insects earned their name. However, it turns out they have more tricks up their sleeve other than their ability to imitate twigs. Yes, these insects can also change color so that they blend in with the plants at all times of the year.
It turns out that they have taken their name a lot further than many first believe as stick insects will also sway in the wind with the plants as they try to blend in as best they can. As if that wasn’t enough, their eggs resemble seeds to keep them safe.
This is a family of fish that all live along the bottom of the ocean where they have learned how to change color. This is to make sure that they blend in with the rocks and coral as they lay in wait for their prey. It turns out they all have one thing in common: they are covered in venomous spines that can be extremely dangerous to humans.
Thankfully, these fish will only sting when they feel threatened, or they are trying to protect themselves. However, their ability to blend into the environment means they can often get mistaken for part of the seafloor.
These creatures have an impressive skill. They are jumping spiders that live across Australia and Africa. It turns out that they have learned a clever way to help themselves blend in with the rest of the insects in the area. How? It raises its legs above its head to make it look as though it has antenna - and therefore looks like an ant.
This means that it can live in harmony alongside the other insects and can even fool the ants themselves, as some have been spotted traveling along their paths in the search for food. Hopefully, it doesn’t get tired legs.
Bird of paradise
The rainforests are typically filled with colorful birds. Perhaps that is why the bird of paradise has made its home there over the years? It’s believed there are 42 species of the birds with each having their own unique bright colors to make them stand out from the crowd.
However, the males have an even more special show they use when it comes to trying to win over a mate. Some use their bright colors and long feathers to impress the ladies while others twist their wings and feathers into impressive shapes as they put on their display in the hopes of landing a partner.
Spiny leaf insect
The spiny leaf insect is a type of stick insect, but it has taken its camouflage one step further. Rather than spending their time looking like a stick, these insects curl their tails and bodies, so they look like leaves hanging from a branch instead.
Believe it or not, but both males and females have wings. Sadly, only the males can fly, as the females are a lot larger and their bulky size renders their wings useless. Spiny leaf insects are found across Australia where they don’t just resemble leaves, but they spend their days eating a lot of them, too.
It appears as though many fish have learned how to adapt to their environment while trying to hide from the creatures of the deep; with cuttlefish being no exception. Cuttlefish are usually covered in patterns, but they have learned how to alter the pigments in their skin to change the way that it reflects the light.
In turn, this then makes it appear as though they have changed color. Still not enough? Cuttlefish have a unique ability that allows them to change the texture of their skin, too. They do this to protect themselves from predators, communicate with other cuttlefish, and startle their prey.
The common baron
Many caterpillars have learned that they need to adapt to their surroundings and blend in pretty well before they spread their wings and learn how to fly as butterflies. However, it appears as though some could do with taking a leaf out of the common baron’s book as this is one of the most camouflaged caterpillars in the world.
The caterpillar spends its days eating the leaves on mango trees, but it has special thin legs and hairs to help it blend into the bottom of the leaves, as well as a stripe along its back to blend with the vein of the leaves.
Many people have fallen for goldfinches over the years thanks to their incredible songs that fill the air. Believe it or not, but American Goldfinches are the only one of the three species that have the ability to molt their feathers and grow new ones with the changing seasons.
The winter months see the males dull down their feathers to an olive color. However, that all changes in the summer as they show the world how they earned their name. Now, they stand out from the crowd thanks to their impressive yellow color. Thankfully, both the males and females pull off the new color.
Of course, if there is one animal that many of us think of when talking about creatures with the ability to change their looks, it’s a chameleon. This lizard has become famous for the way that it can change its entire appearance in a few moments to help it blend in with the environment.
Apparently, chameleons can also change color when they are scared or angry, while some have a transformation when the temperature, light, or humidity changes. There are many species of chameleons, but they do this by using a layer of specialized cells that lie just underneath the skin.
Flower crab spider
Believe it or not, but there are over 2,000 species of crab spiders living around the world. They can live anywhere from scrublands to rainforests and woodlands to meadows. The spiders have earned their name thanks to the shape of their body as many believe they look just like a crab.
Plus, the species also walk with their front two legs in the air and have even been spotted moving sideways. The flower crab spider has learned how to adapt to all those flowers that it enjoys throughout the day as they change their color to match the petals of the plant.
Bird dropping spider
Birds can be a major threat to spiders. Why try and run from your predator when you could become a part of them instead? Well, almost. The bird dropping spider is a brown and white spider that resembles bird droppings. The spiders hang around on fruit trees in Australia where they blend into the branches by looking like their name.
Here, they lie in wait for moths who are drawn to the fruit. Although this is quite a large spider, it tucks in all its legs underneath its abdomen to help make sure that it looks like nothing to worry about.
These flat fish are found all throughout the shallow waters of the Indo-Pacific where they have learned to become the masters of changing their appearance. They do this to keep themselves safe as well as a way to make sure their prey never see them lying in wait.
The fish tend to crawl along the bottom of the water rather than swim to make sure they go completely undetected. It’s here they put their color-changing skills to good use as they can transform in just eight seconds. The fish have been able to pull off some extremely technical patterns, with some even adapting to a checkerboard.
There is changing our look, and then there’s transforming from one creature into an entirely new thing after hanging around as a big sack of goo. Okay, that might make it sound a little less glamorous. Caterpillars spend the first part of their life as bugs crawling around looking for food before they build a cocoon.
Here, all the old parts of the caterpillar go through a transformation called metamorphosis as they turn into the wings and new body of a beautiful butterfly. Finally, they break free as their new selves. Butterflies typically learn how to fly in just three or four hours.
The horned desert viper
North Africa and the Middle East are both home to the horned desert viper. This snake loves to live in the sands and stony deserts, where it has learned how to hide from the world. It is incredibly venomous, but thankfully spends most of its time hunting rodents.
This has made them an important part of the food chain as they help to keep the rodent population under control. The snakes use their skills to bury down into the sand where they lay in wait for anything unlucky enough to walk past. They locate their prey by using heat vision as well as detecting any vibrations.
These little creatures have an incredible sense of smell as well as impeccable hearing and very good eyesight. This means they are talented hunters who often prey on birds' nests as they eat the eggs. However, they aren’t fussy as stoats will also eat everything from insects to possums and rabbits to mice.
As if their incredible skills weren’t enough already, stoats are one of the many creatures who entirely change color with the seasons. They are usually brown and white in the warmer months, before they turn all white in the winter to help them blend in with the snow and ice.
Malayan horned frog
There are many species of frogs in the world who live in all kinds of habitats. However, the Malayan horned frog has taken full advantage of fallen leaves in South East Asia. Their colors and unusual shape means they can easily blend into the darker shades of the forest floor.
That’s not all. Their long horns that protrude above their eyes and nose help to add to the illusion. These features make it look as though the frog is actually a fallen leaf, meaning they are often missed by predators. To top it off, every one of these frogs has its own markings on their backs.
The mimic octopus wasn’t discovered until 1998 after it was spotted along the coast of an Indonesian island. It looks as though there might be a reason that it took so long to spot the creature. These octopi have become the masters of mimicking several other species in the area.
In fact, it's believed they can copy up to 13 different animals, including sea anemones, jellyfish, sea snakes, and lionfish. The octopus tends to mimic poisonous animals to help ward off any threats. They have also played the parts of crabs of the opposite gender to lure crabs over before enjoying them as their next meal.
This bird spends the majority of its time hiding from the rest of the world until the sun goes down, and then it’s time to come out to play. That’s right; dusk is the perfect time for the chotacabras pauraque to come out to play as the birds wait on branches for any passing insects.
The bird is found in Texas, but not a lot is known about them thanks to their love of staying hidden. They do this by nestling down into fallen leaves along the edge of tree lines. Their dark colors help them to stay safe before the cover of darkness gives them even more shelter.
Golden tortoise beetle
There are few animals in this world who have been able to achieve a truly golden color. That was until the golden tortoise beetle. That’s not the only impressive aspect of this beetle. It’s also covered in microscopic cavities that are filled with pigmentation and change color when it’s needed.
The beetles use this to blend into various plants as well as imitating other insects, such as ladybirds. It seems as though golden tortoise beetles have come up with a host of ways to keep themselves safe as they also pull in all their legs so they get as close to the leaves as possible.
The chlamydosaurus is better known as the frilled-neck lizard. It’s not until it shows off its unusual addition that we get to see how it earned its name. Many of the lizards and brown or red, but they have the ability to adapt to their environment as the seasons change.
However, it’s the frilled neck that gets most people talking. All of a sudden, it can seem as though we’re looking at an entirely different creature. They put on this display during mating rituals as well as a way to threaten off any dangers, and can even use the frill as a way to cool down.
Pygmy seahorses typically measure less than an inch long from the tip of their tail to their snout. They are one of the smallest known vertebrates on the planet and so they have to work hard to make sure they stay out of the way of the bigger fish in the water.
Thankfully, they have found the perfect way to stay safe. The seahorses are brightly colored and covered in patterns. This, along with their shape, are the ideal camouflage for use amongst the bright coral reefs as they often hook on and wait for any threats to pass them by.
This is one of many geckos that calls Madagascar its home. However, they all need a new way to keep safe. The uroplatus gecko has adopted a unique way to make sure that it's not in danger. How? By acting like a fallen leaf, of course.
All the geckos have flat bodies with triangular-shaped heads, but it’s their tail that helps them to blend in so well. Its skin is marked with veins to make it look just like a leaf from its natural environment. All they need to do is stay as still as possible among the other leaves.
Have you ever seen a fish fly? That might not be a question that many of us have asked ourselves over the years, but it’s one that has become a reality for many people who love to explore the ocean. It seems as though all that salt water is enough to create some incredible alterations.
These flying fish have lateral extensions that they extend out like wings to help them fly across the surface of the water. They have rigid bodies that help them to increase performance and speed in the air, while updrafts and oceanic currents help to lift them higher into the air.
These creatures are also known as the pink orchid mantis and the flower mantis, but all the names are referring to the same characteristics: their incredible ability to make themselves look like an orchid, with a bright white base.
However, other parts of the mantis will turn to a more vivid pink when they are on an orchid to help them blend in. To top it off, their four walking limbs can be twisted to make them look like extra petals on the plant. This is perfect for staying out of sight of any creature looking for a quick snack.
Here is a fish that certainly knows how to change their look. Pufferfish are made up from a group of fish who all have the ability to puff themselves up to new sizes. In fact, some can even double in size as they fill their stomachs with water or air.
All of a sudden, they become too large and spiky for any predators, meaning they get to live to see another day. Sadly, there’s a catch. Anyone brave enough to take them on will soon find themselves ingesting a life-ending toxin without knowing the truth until it’s too late. It takes a skilled chef to prepare this Japanese delicacy.
Some animals have learned how to survive in all kinds of terrain, with the Arctic fox being a prime example. In the winter, they sport a bright white coat that helps them to battle the cold and blend into the snow. However, they shed their fur in the summer for a much darker and finer version to suit the rocks.
They have incredible hearing that helps them to locate any prey hiding under the snow before taking an impressive leap into the air and diving head first to find it. They might have small ears, but this is to help any heat loss in the freezing months.