Hilaire Leblanc November 30, 2019 Animal
Some animals are colored purely incidentally because their blood contains pigments. For example, amphibians like the olm that live in caves may be largely colorless as color has no function in that environment, but they show some red because of the haem pigment in their red blood cells, needed to carry oxygen. They also have a little orange colored riboflavin in their skin. Human albinos and people with fair skin have a similar color for the same reason.
luciferin is catalysed by the enzyme luciferase to react with oxygen, releasing light. Comb jellies such as Euplokamis are bioluminescent, creating blue and green light, especially when stressed; when disturbed, they secrete an ink which luminesces in the same
Aggressive resemblance is used by predators or parasites. In special aggressive resemblance, the animal looks like something else, luring the prey or host to approach, for example when a flower mantis resembles a particular kind of flower, such as an orchid. In general aggressive resemblance, the predator or parasite blends in with the background, for example when a leopard is hard to see in long grass.
Many animals, including mammals, birds, and amphibians, are unable to synthesize most of the pigments that color their fur or feathers, other than the brown or black melanins that give many mammals their earth tones.For example, the bright yellow of an American goldfinch, the startling orange of a juvenile red-spotted newt, the deep red of a cardinal and the pink of a flamingo are all produced by carotenoid pigments synthesized by plants. In the case of the flamingo, the bird eats pink shrimps, which are themselves unable to synthesize carotenoids. The shrimps derive their body color from microscopic red algae, which like most plants are able to create their own pigments, including both carotenoids and (green) chlorophyll. Animals that eat green plants do not become green, however, as chlorophyll does not survive digestion.
Henry Walter Bates’s 1863 book The Naturalist on the River Amazons describes his extensive studies of the insects in the Amazon basin, and especially the butterflies. He discovered that apparently similar butterflies often belonged to different families, with a harmless species mimicking a poisonous or bitter-tasting species to reduce its chance of being attacked by a predator, in the process now called after him, Bayesian mimicry.
Warning coloration can succeed either through inborn behaviour (instinct) on the part of potential predators, or through a learned avoidance. Either can lead to various forms of mimicry. Experiments show that avoidance is learned in birds, mammals, lizards, and amphibians, but that some birds such as great tits have inborn avoidance of certain colors and patterns such as black and yellow stripes.
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