Humans usually see some pretty flashy colours and identify with them as they live in a world where the pool water is turquoise, the cheese curls are electric orange and the sports drinks and nail polish can be literally any colour. So it might be surprising to learn that animals have clearly outdone humans. These are some of the most eye-catching colours in nature existing in shape of fish, birds, amphibians and even a few insects.
A zoo in Russia made worldwide headlines in 2016 when it’s mating lions, both normally coloured, gave birth to twin white cubs. White lions have featured in African legends for centuries and are extremely rare in the wild because the babies’ distinctive white coats make it hard for them to blend in and hide from prey. The white coats may be caused by a recessive gene, or by an evolutionary abnormality; they could be living throwbacks to a time when early lions roamed the snowy forests of Siberia. Either way, there are currently about 300 known white lions in the world.
The Gouldian finch is a species of finch native to Australia. Like many birds, the male finches use their bright colours for mating; the plumage of female finches looks like a faded version of their male counterparts’ finery. One odd finch fact: the finches are very poor nest builders and tend to borrow termite mounds for nesting space!
Tall, slender and bright pink, adult flamingos are hard to miss. The tropical sea birds are actually grey when they first hatch, but the carotene-rich algae and shrimp that the birds feed on turn their feathers pink by the time they reach adulthood. The birds’ feathers differ in colour depending on their diet; some are a rich red and others a paler pink.
One cannot talk about colourful animals without mentioning the toucan. These rainbow-beaked birds are native to the rainforest of Mexico and South America. Scientists have identified about 40 subspecies of toucan. Scientists are divided on the purpose of the toucan’s beak— some believe it allows the birds to pick berries from trees more easily, while others believe it serves as a sounding box to amplify the bird’s mating call. The beak can also be used for self-defence, or quite simply to show off. Another weird beak fact: the toucan’s beak can grow as long as 23 centimetres (9 inches)
Peacocks are a large subspecies of pheasant native to India and Sri Lanka and Java and Myanmar. They are mainly known for their distinctive, fan-like masses of tail feathers, which can display a dazzling range of blues, greens and golds. Folded, the fan-like tails form trains that make up two-thirds of the birds’ body length. Female peacocks— plain, brown, rather unremarkable-looking birds— are thought to choose mates based on the size and colour of the males’ tail feathers.
Poison Dart Frog
Poison dart frogs are some of the brightest-coloured creatures on earth. Their colours serve as a giant warning system to predators. The frogs are native to the jungles of Central and South America. Some species have enough poison to kill ten adult humans. For centuries, tribes living in the Amazon rainforest have put frog poison on the tips of their blowgun darts when hunting, hence the popular name poison dart frog. Why are the frogs so toxic? Scientists believe they stock poisons carried by their insect prey; dart frogs bred in captivity never develop poison.
It’s hard to say exactly what colour a chameleon is, because these crafty lizards always take on the colours of their surroundings. Chameleons are native to Madagascar, North Africa, Spain and Portugal but are kept as pets around the world. They change colour to hide from predators and to catch potential prey by surprise. They can also change colour in response to anger, fear or changes in light or weather conditions. Females can also change colour when they become pregnant. TW