Dazzling or deceptive?

Have you ever wondered why coral reef fishes are so brilliantly coloured and bizarrely patterned? A quick flick through any coral reef fish guide will leave you bewildered and awed.

To answer this question, we need to think about what animals, in general, use their colour patterns for. There is, in fact, a range of uses: for instance, many must have patterns that are both eye-catching to would-be mates but also appear cryptic to lurking predators.

My colleagues, Dr John Fitzpatrick at University of Manchester, UK, Dr Sami Merilaita at Abo Akademi University, Finland, and I, recently used a