Masked animals - Mandrill, primate

Photo: Natalia Paklina/Shutterstock

Across the animal kingdom, there is great variety in coloration and markings — but perhaps the most amusing patterns of those that make critters appear to be wearing masks. The mandrill shown above is the most colorful of all primate species — and the colors become more vivid as the creatures become excited. As with many bird species, the males have the brightest coloration to attract female mates.

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Masked animals - Pink underwing moth caterpillar

Photo: Lui Weber/Flickr

Pink underwing moth caterpillars look as though they have their faces painted for the Day of the Dead! As you can imagine, the skull-like pigmentation serves to scare away predators.  This Australian species is facing extinction, according to the Daily Mail.

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Masked animals - Masked plover

Photo: Anna Norris

The masked lapwing is so-called for its yellow wattles. It seems that everything about this bird is loud, from its bright face to its piercing calls and aggressive nest-guarding behaviors.

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Masked animals - Black-footed ferret

Photo: USFWS Mountain Prairie/Flickr

The black-footed ferret has a bandit-like mask, similar to the markings found on raccoons. And like raccoons, this endangered ferret (also known as the American polecat or prairie dog hunter) is nocturnal. Black bands around the eyes are thought to help nocturnal animals see better in the dark.

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Masked animals - Swan

Photo: Curioso/Shutterstock

With their black-lined bills and large knob, mute swans also look like they're wearing masks.

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Masked animals - Red Panda

Photo: Anna Norris

More reminiscent of a raccoon than a panda, red pandas are most active in the hours between dusk and dawn. Their varying coloration helps them to blend into the trees, where they spend most of their days lounging.

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Masked animals - White-crested laughing thrush

Photo: Anna Norris

One of the boldest masks can be found on the white-crested laughing thrush. Named for their cackling calls, these birds are quite social.

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Masked animals - Tuxedo cat

Photo: Tatinax/Flickr

Tuxedo cats have black and white spots of many shapes and sizes. Every now and then, the felines' facial markings resemble a mask. (Talk about "cat burglars"!)

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Masked animals - Masked weaver

Photo: Mogens Trolle/Shutterstock

The southern masked weaver is boldly colored during the mating season to attract the ladies. Its mask almost covers its entire face, and the contrast of the mask with piercing red eyes is striking.

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Masked animals - Raccoon

Photo: Lars Christensen/Shutterstock

And who could forget the masked crusader of trash cans himself, the raccoon? Sure, the black coloration helps these food-bandits sneak around in the night, but it can also help the nocturnal mammals identify one another.

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