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This crab sticks a sponge to its body to blend into the seafloor.

David Hall/Blue Planet Archive

STANDARDS

CCSS: 3.OA.A.2

TEKS: 3.5B

Animal Costume Party!

You might wear a costume to put the “trick” in “trick or treat”! Some animals use disguises every day to blend into their environment or to stump their enemies. Let’s meet some animals for which every day is Halloween! 

Sponge Crab: Hat Hideout

Fred Bavendam/Minden Pictures

You might put on a Spider-Man mask to hide your identity. Similarly, some animals wear their own sneaky headgear. To blend into the seafloor, the sponge crab designs a hat out of a live sponge!

Sponges are simple organisms that filter bits of food from water. After a crab selects a sponge for a hat and attaches it to its body, the sponge continues to grow. The crab keeps trimming its disguise so it stays the right size. If a predator does spot the crab and takes a bite, the foul-tasting sponge makes it wish it hadn’t.

Perhaps you like to put on a Spider-Man mask to hide who you are. Some animals wear their own sneaky hats. The sponge crab uses a live sponge as a hat! This helps the crab blend in with the seafloor.

Sponges are simple organisms. They filter bits of food from water. A crab selects a sponge for a hat. The crab attaches the sponge to its body. The sponge continues to grow. The crab makes sure the sponge stays the right size by trimming it. A predator might still spot the crab and take a bite. But the sponge tastes bad. The predator will wish it hadn’t attacked!

Thomas Marent/Minden Pictures 

The orchid mantis uses its petal-shaped legs to look like a flower.

Orchid Mantis: Frightening Flowers

Thomas Marent/Minden Pictures 

The orchid mantis resembles a beautiful bloom to catch unsuspecting insect snacks. By pretending to be the flower of plants called orchids, the mantis attracts bees, butterflies, and other types of insects. Then it grabs them when they get close. 

These predators have legs that look like petals. Their limbs can be a variety of colors, including yellow, pink, and white. They’re proof that looks can be deceiving, even for a bug. 

The orchid mantis looks like a beautiful flower to catch insects. The orchid mantis pretends to be the flower of a plant called an orchid. The mantis attracts bees, butterflies, and other types of insects. The mantis grabs the insects when they get close.

Orchid mantises are predators. They have legs that look like petals. Their limbs can be a variety of colors. Their limbs might be yellow, pink, or white. The orchid mantis is proof that looks can be deceiving, even for a bug.

Michael Aw/Blue Planet Archive (Octopus); Constantinos Petrinos/NPL/Minden Pictures (Coconut)

This octopus slips inside a coconut shell for protection. 

Veined Octopus: Coconut Camouflage

Michael Aw/Blue Planet Archive (Octopus); Constantinos Petrinos/NPL/Minden Pictures (Coconut)

Have you ever hidden inside an object when playing a game of hide-and-seek? The veined octopus does something similar to hide from predators! It molds its squishy body inside two halves of a coconut shell. The octopus seals the shells together to create a protective shield. Even a chomping reef shark would struggle to break through the tough shell.  

Veined octopuses can even “walk” while inside the shell. They poke their tentacles out and scoot over the sand using small steps. This smart sea creature takes its coconut costume on the go!

Have you ever played a game of hide-and-seek? You might have tried to hide inside an object. The veined octopus hides inside objects too. Hiding this way protects the octopus from predators! The veined octopus’s body is squishy. It presses its body inside two halves of a coconut shell. The octopus seals the shells together. This creates a shield that can protect it. Even a shark would have a hard time biting through the tough shell. 

Veined octopuses can even “walk” while inside the shell. They poke their tentacles out. Then they use their tentacles to take small steps over the sand. This smart sea creature takes its coconut costume on the go!

James D. Watt/Blue Planet Archive (Sea Dragon); Fred Bavendam/Minden Pictures (Leaves)

The leafy sea dragon has body parts that look like kelp leaves.

Leafy Sea Dragon: Leafy Lurker

James D. Watt/Blue Planet Archive (Sea Dragon); Fred Bavendam/Minden Pictures (Leaves)

It’s much easier to hide from predators when your entire body already looks like a plant! Leafy sea dragons are a type of bony fish. But they look more like trees than fish! They are born with leaf-shaped limbs sprouting from all over their bodies. 

Leafy sea dragons use their plant-like look to blend in with all kinds of underwater vegetation. They practically disappear into the seaweed and kelp forests where they live. Their thin, see-through fins are almost impossible to spot.

It’s easier to hide from predators when your body looks like a plant! Leafy sea dragons are a type of fish. But they look more like trees! Leafy sea dragons are born with limbs that are shaped like leaves. These limbs cover their bodies.

Leafy sea dragons blend in with many types of underwater plants. They live in seaweed and kelp forests. Leafy sea dragons nearly disappear among the leaves. Their fins are thin. You can see through them. This makes the leafy sea dragon almost impossible to spot.

Now You Try It

There are 18 pieces of sponge for 9 sponge crabs to use as hats. Draw an array to show how many pieces of sponge each crab will wear if they all grab an equal amount. Write and solve an equation representing your array.

There are 18 pieces of sponge for 9 sponge crabs to use as hats. Draw an array to show how many pieces of sponge each crab will wear if they all grab an equal amount. Write and solve an equation representing your array.

An orchid mantis traps up to 3 bugs a day. Draw an array for how many days it would take an orchid mantis to trap 21 bugs if it ate the maximum amount each day. Write and solve an equation representing your array.

An orchid mantis traps up to 3 bugs a day. Draw an array for how many days it would take an orchid mantis to trap 21 bugs if it ate the maximum amount each day. Write and solve an equation representing your array.

A veined octopus needs 2 coconut halves for its shield. With 16 coconut halves on the ocean floor, how many octopuses can build themselves a shield? Model your answer with an array, and write and solve a division equation to match.  

A veined octopus needs 2 coconut halves for its shield. With 16 coconut halves on the ocean floor, how many octopuses can build themselves a shield? Model your answer with an array, and write and solve a division equation to match.  

You see 30 leaf-like limbs among a group of sea dragons. Each sea dragon’s body has 6 leafy limbs. How many sea dragons are in the group? Draw an array to show your answer. Represent your array with a division equation.

You see 30 leaf-like limbs among a group of sea dragons. Each sea dragon’s body has 6 leafy limbs. How many sea dragons are in the group? Draw an array to show your answer. Represent your array with a division equation.

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