Kingdom Animalia is always full of surprises. No matter where you look, you can see creatures with the most astounding natural or learned mechanisms. From the biggest to the smallest organism, there are many things about animals that can truly make our jaws drop. The ones listed here have eye-popping abilities to mimic the fauna around them. They copy leaves, flowers, and even algae, but without a doubt animals that can mimic plants are the most impressive…
1. Ghost Mantis
Is that a leaf or a mantis? Many people would certainly say leaf, even if they see these moving. The sole member of the genus Phyllocrania, these small species of mantis can be found across Africa. They are very small and can grow only up to 2 inches long. They come in various colours: several shades of brown and greenish grey. They look like dead leaves. In fact, most parts of their body look like leaves that have dried up. They live for up to two years.
2. Green Plant-Hopper
Also called the torpedo bug, this insect’s scientific name is Siphanta acuta. This beautiful insect feeds on plants and looks like a leaf. When they are at rest, their green wings cover their bodies much like a sloping roof. They are small, with an average length of 15 mm or half an inch. Their name Torpedo Bug is due to the fact that their nymphs can leap to about two feet. They are native to Australia but they can now be found in Hawaii and New Zealand as well. One can find them in California, too.
3. Stick Insect
As the name suggests, this is an insect that looks a lot like a stick. They actually look more like a eucalyptus twig. Incidentally, their main source of food is the eucalyptus tree. They have long and slender bodies but they can also fly. They can grow up to 18 centimetres long. These insects are natives of the southern part of Australia. They have made the woodlands of New South Wales and Victoria home but most of them can be found in places that are nearer to the waters.
4. Leafy Sea Dragon
What beautiful seaweed! Upon closer inspection, though, you will realize that this is a fish that belongs to the same family as seahorses. Under the water, they look like floating seaweed. They have body parts that look a lot like leaves. These leaf-like body parts of not used for moving under the water. They are simply used for blending into their environment. What they use to move are fins that are transparent. These fins are difficult to see, making the leafy sea dragon look less like an animal and more like the plant it mimics.
5. Devil’s Flower Mantis
Another mantis that can mimic plants like it’s the most natural thing in the world. Well, in their world, it IS the most natural thing. The Devil’s Flower Mantis is colourful and actually quite beautiful. It will not be called King of all Mantids for nothing. With its lovely wing and body colours, it is easy to mistake this mantis for a flower or even a leaf. There are many mantids that mimic flowers but this particular species is quite adept at it, largely due to its beautiful appearance.
6. Weedy Seadragon
This is another relative of the seahorse and the Leafy Sea Dragon mentioned above. Although not quite as strange-looking as the Leafy Sea Dragon, the Phyllopteryx taeniolatus can easily hide in seaweed beds because of its leaf-like body projections. They are native to the southern coast of Australia and can be found mainly in waters between 3 to 50 meters deep. When they are moving over shallow waters, it is easy to mistake them for floating weeds. They feed on small crustaceans and zooplankton.
7. Satanic Leaf-tailed Gecko
These geckos can be found mainly in Madagascar and have a couple of other interesting names. One can also call it the eyelash leaf-tailed gecko or the fantastic leaf-tailed gecko. The latter is an obvious praise for its ability to mimic plants. What’s interesting about this gecko is its flat tail. Resembling a leaf, the tail makes it easy for the gecko to blend into its surroundings. Due to this trait, they can hunt for food and hide when they need to.
One of the sea animals known for its aggressive mimicry, there are many things with which the frogfish can turn themselves into in order to find food or hide from predators. Some frogfish look like stones or corals while there are others that can copy sea squirts or even sponges. Some can mimic other marine life, such as sea urchins. Of course, since they have been included in this list, it is essential to point out that there are some frogfish that look like they are covered in algae. Without these natural mechanisms, the frogfish is actually quite helpless against other sea animals.
9. Leaf Scorpionfish
This is another sea animal that mimics a dead leaf. They do this to catch their prey by surprise. Aside from looking like a leaf, they actually act like the plant that they mimic as well. What they do is hide under corals or float above the sea floor like a dead leaf. They move like they are being rocked by the currents. Their prey, assuming that the Leaf Scorpionfish is just harmless plant life, move closer, unaware that they are moving closer to their doom.
10. Eastern Long-Necked Turtle
These are turtles with necks that they can bend their head sideways into their shells. They are native to Australia and can mostly be found in freshwater swamps, dams, and lakes. Their plant mimicry comes in the form of algae growing on their shells. When they are not moving, they look a lot like rocks, thereby escaping predators or even humans with evil intentions.
Do you know of any other animals that mimic plants in some way? If you do why not let us know in the comments below.