Most animals, insects and birds are naturally camouflaged to protect them from predators. Their coloring blends in with the scenery so well, it's often difficult for us to see them. Visitors to The Little Nature Museum in Warner will learn about the many types of camouflage.
In the early 1900's, Abbott Thayer, a Dublin, New Hampshire resident and painter, grew fascinated with how wildlife blended in with the environment. His concealing coloration theory used overlapping landscape colors with disruptive patterns to disguise an object.
After Thayer presented his theory to the French during World War I, they adopted it and applied the variegated design to Allied uniforms, American trucks, sniper suits, and observation posts. This design broke up the form of the object to thwart identity. Thayer also utilized pieces of material knotted to wire netting. This material cast shadows that broke up the shapes beneath.
Another of Thayer's designs was called “Dazzle” camouflage, which was used on United States Navy ships. This type of camouflage doesn't hide an object, but its brilliant patterns confuse the enemy and makes it difficult to quickly gauge shape, distance, direction and speed, giving the American ship an advantage.
Camouflage in WWI and in Nature is one of three new displays at the museum commemorating the 100th anniversary of the U. S. entry into that war.
“I was fascinated that the “Father of Camouflage” came from New Hampshire,” said Sandra Martin, director of the museum. “As a result of his design, various colors of camouflage have been used in the military since then.”
The crystal radio was another newcomer during WWI and was widely used. No longer were as many runners needed to deliver messages along the front lines. The crystal radio sent out signals that anyone with a receiver could hear. These radios included a fine wire that touched the surface of a crystalline mineral, now called diode. The crystal has some metallic content, so serves as a crude semiconductor.
Another display at The Little Nature Museum describes the Federal Migratory Bird Act of 1918. Prior to that, many migratory birds were becoming endangered because people killed them for their colorful feathers. Decorating ladies hats was a lucrative business. In 1902, a London auction sales room sold 1,608 packages of herons' plumes, weighing 30 ounces each. It took four herons to make one ounce of feathers, so 192,960 herons were killed to fill just those packages.
“People don't realize most birds they see are protected by this Act,” said Martin. “By over hunting, we lost millions of birds. Thousands of flocks of passenger pigeons were wiped out until they became extinct. It was a wakeup call. We needed to do something.”
Those who visit The Little Nature Museum this year will enjoy learning about these WWI era advancements, as well as many other nature related topics.
“We hope people will stop by our museum to see these special displays. The WWI displays will only be up this year,” Martin said. “We have many hands-on interactive displays and artifacts that fascinate adults and children alike.”
The Little Nature Museum is located at 18 Highlawn Road in Warner adjacent to the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum. More information may be found at: littlenaturemuseum.org.