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crypsisKrypsis (ger.)

  • 1) Coloration of an organism serving for camouflage by resembling parts of the environment.

    [Protective and Aggressive Resemblances are classed as Cryptic Colours (Procryptic and Anticryptic).

    Poulton, E.B. (1890). The Colours of Animals, Their Meaning and Use, Especially Considered in the Case of Insects: 336.]


    [cryptic Lepidoptera

    Carpenter, G. & Hale, D. (1935). A suggested explanation of variation in cryptic Lepidoptera. Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine 71, 234-236.]


    Krypsis, Schmetterlinge

    Anonymus (1936). Zoologischer Bericht 40, 541 (Register).


    In those insects which gain protection from mechanisms other than crypsis […], or even in those cryptic moths which benefit from resembling dead leaves, the melanics are rare, recessive, sub-lethal.

    Kettlewell, H.B.D. (1956). A resume of investigations on the evolution of melanism in Lepidoptera. Proc. Roy. Soc. London Ser. B 145, 297-303: 297.


    Animals which are camouflaged to resemble part of the environment are said to be cryptic, and the phenomenon is called crypsis. In this book I am further restricting crypsis to animals which are not normally distinguished from the environmentby a predator although they are visible. If the animal resembles an inanimate object or a plant such that a predator may distinguishit from its background but fails to recognize it as being edible, I have considered the defence to be batesian mimicry, not crypsis.

    Edmunds, M. (1974). Defence in Animals: 7.

  • 2) The life-form of organisms living in concealed environments.

    [With few exceptions the Termites are tropical or sub-tropical in habitat; avoiding light, and living in vast concealed communities, their cryptic manner of life renders the task of observation extremely prolonged and arduous.

    Blandford, W.F.H. (1897). The social system of termites. Nature 56, 517-518: 517.]


    [It has been suggested that the Veretillidæ are degenerate, but […] they are not parasitic, sedentary, nor cryptic in habit.

    Hickson, S.J. (1918). Croonian Lecture: Evolution and symmetry in the order of the sea-pens. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Ser. B, 90, 108-135: 135.]