Fiddler crab showing off its enlarged claw in the mangroves

Visual communication

Visual communication transmits information to others through shape, colour and movement or body language. Animals can both send and decode visual messages, using colour and behavioural displays for messages as varied as threat, invitations to mate and identification of what species they are. Though plants can't themselves see, they use visual cues such as colour to attract animals to their flowers and fruits. Visual perception differs radically among various groups of animals, from the ability to see in low light, to detection of the slightest movement.

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Animals with this behaviour





Cartilaginous fish

Ray-finned fishes




Crabs, shrimp and krill

BBC News about Visual communication

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Video collections

Take a trip through the natural world with our themed collections of video clips from the natural history archive.

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