Kids playing in Nature

Science Experiment: Dinosaur Camouflage

March 2023

Written by Eliza

What is camouflage?

It is a defense tactic that organisms use to disguise themselves by matching their background. Also called cryptic coloration, camouflage allows organisms to conceal their location, movement, and identity from the world. It is used by prey and predators alike!

Did you know camouflage isn’t always used to hide? Some organisms make themselves bright colors to warn possible predators that they may be poisonous. Other organisms will make camouflage themselves to appear more dangerous so others will not mess with them. This is called Mimicry (examples of this are Monarch butterflies and Viceroy butterflies.)

The butterflies pictured below are different species! Monarch butterflies are very bitter to eat due to their diet. So Viceroy’s evolved to look very similar so predators would think Viceroy’s taste bad as well!

viceroy butterfly camouflage

Viceroy Butterfly

Butterfly on a flower

Monarch Butterfly

How did dinosaurs camouflage themselves?

Similar to animals today, some dinosaurs matched their surroundings. The dinosaurs who camouflage themselves were most likely herbivores. They did this to protect themselves from the omnivores and carnivores.

Recently scientists discovered an excellent fossil that shows the skin color of a dinosaur! The dinosaur was from a species known as the ankylosaur and it used a type of camouflage called counter-shading.

Picture of spiky and bumpy dinosaur called the ankylosaurs in camouflage

Counter-shading is when an organism’s color blends from dark to light. This allows them to blend in with the ground when viewed from above and blend in with the sky when viewed from below. This dinosaur specifically had red-ish brown skin that allowed it to blend in with the color of the soil!

Scientists believe that it is similar to how animals camouflage themselves today!

Here are some animals that use that can be found at Cave of the Mounds!

bobcat at night
Squirrel on a log in the woods in camouflage
camouflage snake on a bed of leaves


Materials Needed:

  • Patterned paper
  • Scissors
  • Ankylosaur cut out (provided)
  • Coloring materials
  • Tape

Pick a patterned background (patterned paper or any background in the house.) Then using the Ankylosaur cut out, camouflage it using art supplies. Then see if people can spot your dinosaur! Share your best camouflaged dinosaur on social media! Tag @caveofthemounds so we can see it!

camouflage activity using this sketch of an ankylosaurs