The Language Of Colours
Just as colours are important for people in making
sense of their surroundings, so are they indispensable for other
living beings to survive.
Living beings have a "colour language" that
works according to the light and the systems of perception they
possess. Different colours bear different meanings for every living
being. In order to survive, every living being has to know the language
of colours used in its habitat, because vital functions can only
be controlled by acknowledgement of this language.
So, how do living beings use this colour language?
majority of living beings need the help of colours in order to find
food. Second, the colours that exist on formations such as skin,
scales and fur play an important role in the continuity of life
due to their characteristics of absorbing or diffusing heat. In
addition, living things use their colourings to protect themselves
from their enemies. Owing to colours that harmonise with their habitat,
they can camouflage themselves and hide from their enemies. Alternatively,
their colourings and patterning may pose a discouraging image for
their enemies. Colours also help animals to recognise their mates
and chicks. A mother bird, for example, understands whether her
chicks need food or not from the colours of their gapes. Similarly,
the chick recognises its mother in this way and understands that
the food has arrived.1As seen in these examples
in nature, living beings need to know the meaning of colours in
order to survive. In order to attain this knowledge correctly they
need to possess proper systems of perception.
If they did not have these systems, they would not be able to perceive
their surroundings properly or carry out their vital activities.
They would not be able to recognise their foods or discriminate
their enemies. Therefore, in this latter case they would stand out
from the outside world and be an easy prey doomed to death.
Surely, no one can claim that such sophisticated systems
might have come into existence by coincidence. Every system, every
harmony, every design, every program, every plan, every balance
must be created by a designer. There is certainly a higher will
and power that has perfectly placed this harmony in living beings
and the habitats in which they live. The owner of this power encompasses
both the surroundings and the living being itself and the systems
it uses with a higher knowledge. The owner of this power is Allah,
Lord of the worlds.
When we examine living beings, we see how skilfully
they employ the language of colours. Here are some examples of the
language of colours, which has such an important place in the life
of living beings:
||Allah creates every colour on earth. The sky,
mountains, crops, butterflies, red apples, oranges, parrots,
pheasants, violet grapes, trees, in short, everything you see
in your surroundings, possess these colours because Allah wills
so. Allah states this fact in a verse as follows:
Do you not see that Allah sends down water from
the sky and by it We bring forth fruits of varying colours? And in
the mountains there are streaks of white and red, of varying shades,
and rocks of deep jet black. And mankind and beasts and livestock
and likewise of varying colours. Only those of His slaves with knowledge
have fear of Allah. Allah is Almighty, Ever-Forgiving. (Surah Fatir:
Camouflage is one of the most effective defence tactics that animals
use. Self-camouflaging animals are under some kind of protection
because of their body structures, which are created in great harmony
with their habitats. The bodies of these animals are so harmonious
with their environments that when you look at their pictures, it
is almost impossible to tell if they are plants or animals, or to
distinguish an animal and a plant present in the same environment
from each other.
The living creatures that adapt
their colourings according to the environments in which they live
have always attracted the attention of scientists. Research focuses
on finding an answer to the question of how a living creature can
look exactly the same as a creature that is of a completely different
Have you ever thought, for instance, how a frog, which, while walking
in the garden, you took for a leaf, and then at the last moment
skipped a step and avoided stepping on it, has it come to possess
these patterns and colour? Camouflage is a very important defence
mechanism for a frog. The frog that is unnoticed in its environment
easily loses its enemies.
In the picture is a grasshopper
imitating the bark of a tree. The camouflage employed by the
grasshopper is so perfect that even the designs of the lichens
on the tree are present on it. This is a perfect creation
While a pink spider on a pink flower can successfully
take on the flower's different shades of pinks of, another member
of the same spider species can adapt to the colour of another flower,
for instance, a yellow one, when it climbs on it.
While someone is looking at a branch, thinking
there is nothing on it, a butterfly may fly away from it all of
a sudden. This butterfly, which looked exactly like a leaf down
to the dry, autumn-withered parts a second ago, is a perfect example
of the miracle of camouflage.
As will be seen in the following pages, the similarity of living
creatures to the objects on which they rest prevents their enemies
from noticing them. It is obvious that these camouflaging creatures
have not made themselves, on their own initiative, look like leaves,
branches or flowers. What's more, they are not even aware that they
are protected because of these similarities. Nevertheless, they
employ camouflage very skilfully in all our examples without exception.
An insect having the same colour as a flower, a snake standing still
as a tree's branch, a frog adapting to the colour of wet ground,
in short, all self-camouflaging creatures are evidence proving that
camouflage is a specially created defence tactic.
No living creature can perform such a task on its own or by coincidence.
Certainly, He Who bestows upon living creatures the ability to camouflage
themselves, and places the chemical processes in them by which they
can carry out this colour change, is Allah, the All-Knowing, the
||The Misumena varia
species of crab spiders seen on the left can assume different
colours ranging from yellow to white, depending on the flower
on which they land.2The spider
species seen on the right stops moving only when the colour
and configuration of the plant are those best suited to hide
insect species protect themselves from their enemies by means
of group camouflage. For instance, Phiatids, a species of tropical
Hemiptera found in Madagascar, has full and brilliantly coloured
wings. When they are resting on a tree trunk, as in this photograph,
they resemble an inflorescence.4This misleads
the hunters that look for insects.
1.David Attenborough, The Life
of Birds, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1998, p.263
2.Marco Ferrari, Colors for Survival, Barnes and Noble Books, New
York, 1992, p.22
3.Marco Ferrari, Colors for Survival, Barnes and Noble Books, New
York, 1992, p.52
4.Marco Ferrari, Colors for Survival, Barnes and Noble Books, New
York, 1992, p.20