Photograph by Joel Sartore/National Geographic/Getty Images

Hide and Seek: The Evolution of Camouflage

  1. Cover up
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    Cover up

    The U.S. Army is scrapping its Universal Camouflage Pattern, a gray, pixelated design that has been used since 2004, reported The Daily (see an image of the pattern here). The pixel camo cost $5 billion to develop. It drew on neuroscience and research about perception and was believed to make soldiers less detectable in various terrains, saving lives. This theory was flawed. In Afghanistan, it will be replaced by a green design called MultiCam until the military can come up with a new pattern. But how did today's pattern evolve in the first place? Here's a look at various designs since before the turn of the 20th century.

    Photograph by Joel Sartore/National Geographic/Getty Images
  2. British ghillie suit
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    British ghillie suit

    Originally developed by Scottish gamekeepers, this foliage-covered suit was later used by the British Army during the Boer War

    Photograph by Tom Stoddart/Getty Images
  3. German camouflage helmets
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    German camouflage helmets

    Though the Germans didn't invent camouflage, they were one of the first to apply it to headgear. In World War I, they sometimes painted their Stahlhelm helmets with camouflage patterns in different hues according to the season.

  4. Italian camouflage cloth
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    Italian camouflage cloth

    Italy was the first country to mass-produce camouflaged military outfits. In 1929, it introduced the telo mimetico, or "mimetic cloth," an idea that was quickly copied.

  5. U.S. frogskin
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    U.S. frogskin

    In 1942, U.S. General MacArthur requested 150,000 jungle camouflage uniforms for soldiers to use in the Pacific. The splotchy, spotty pattern was nicknamed "frogskin" and was the first camouflage pattern put into widespread use by the U.S. military.

    Photograph by Hulton Archive/Getty Images
  6. Nazi Germany peas pattern
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    Nazi Germany peas pattern

    This 44 Dot “peas pattern” camouflage was worn by members of the Waffen SS, the armed wing of the German Nazi Party, during World War II.

  7. U.S. tiger stripe
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    U.S. tiger stripe

    First worn by the Army of the Republic of Viet Nam (or the South Vietnamese Army), the tiger stripe pattern was later adopted by the American military, though it was not an official U.S.-issue item.

    Photograph by Co Rentmeester/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
  8. U.S. Desert Storm camo
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    U.S. Desert Storm camo

    Also called "chocolate chip" or "cookie dough" camo, this six-color pattern was used during the Gulf War. As it was not effective in desert terrain, it was replaced by a three-color pattern in 1999.

    Photograph by Michel Gangne/AFP/Getty Images
  9. Invisibility cloak research
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    Invisibility cloak research

    Still an experimental technology, "invisibility cloaks" are being developed by researchers at such companies as BAE Systems to hide objects, including tanks.