Psychophysics experiment is bad news for deer

Findings: Tapping Into What a Deer Sees, and Doesn’t

Not being a hunter, I’m not sure how much I support this, but I must admit this is at least a very interesting application of psychophysics data. Using deer as subjects in a standard battery of visual psychophysics tests, researchers have engineered a new material/pattern (“Gore Optifade”) that is superior to standard camo for evading detection by deer. Looks like deer are red-green colorblind but have higher acuity in the blue end of spectrum than humans.

Once they had assessed the deer’s visual strengths and weaknesses, Dr. Neitz and Dr. O’Neill worked out colors, textures and shapes with Guy Cramer of HyperStealth Biotechnology, a company that designs military camouflage. Mr. Cramer’s computer algorithms create fractal patterns that exploit a couple of ancient tricks used by animal predators.

The first and most obvious trick is to fade into the background, as a leopard’s spots enable it to do while it’s patiently waiting to ambush a prey. The spots aren’t shaped like leaves or branches, but they form an overall “micropattern” matching the colors and overall texture of the woodland background.

That trick, though, won’t work for a predator on the move, which is why a tiger doesn’t have spots. It has a “macropattern” of stripes that break up the shape of its body as it’s stalking or running.

There is a nice demonstration image with the article showing the same scene viewed with human vs. deer vision.

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