The amazing colors of animals mean different things, but we found a pattern

Fashion in the animal kingdom can be dazzling, as it often appears, eerily repetitive. There are only so many molds of color that scream “look at me” amid the gray and green of foliage and slime.

So it should come as no surprise that animals often use the same colors for very different purposes.

bright scarlet male northern cardinal (The Cardinal The Cardinal) as a signal for potential colleagues to approach; in strawberry poisonous frogs (Oophaga pumilio), this red explosion is a stern warning to stay away, or you will swallow a dose of powerful deadly poisons.

Evolutionary biologist Zachary Imberts, now of Oklahoma State University, and colleague John Wiens of the University of Arizona wondered what causes the same colors to evolve to serve different purposes in different animals.

They did a study of 1,824 species of land vertebrates (aquatic animals could be another kettle of fish), categorized their colors as either come here or get lost, and found the common thread connecting each group.

The animals that come here, such as birds and lizards, are descended from ancestors that were diurnal or active during the day. Lost animals, such as snakes and amphibians, are descended from nocturnal ancestors.

“The traits we see today in species could be a result of their evolutionary history,” Imberts says. “We were looking for evolutionary patterns, so we ran two separate analyzes, one that used current day and night activity and the other that used their ancestors’ day and night activity.”

They found that there was no relationship between day and night activity and the colors of animals today. Instead, the link is just ancestors. But it appears consistent across all terrestrial vertebrates, the evolution of which goes back about 350 million years.

“It doesn’t matter how a species produces colour,” Wiens says. “The way a bird makes red is different from the way a lizard makes red, but this general pattern of day and night activity still works.”

According to the researchers’ analysis, most of the ancestors of the animals they studied started out simple and gloomy, developed their bright colors over time, and most lived in environments where their bright colors stood out. The most plausible explanation is that the brightly colored animals were better able to survive, passing their genetic material on to generations that continued in this trend.

The colors analyzed included red, orange, yellow, purple, and blue, and the researchers found that for all but blue, the colors were split evenly between sexual and warning cues. It is not currently clear why.

“It is interesting to see that for some colors such as red, orange and yellow, they are used with a similar frequency as a way to avoid predators and as a way to attract a partner,” Imberts says.

“On the flip side, blue was more frequently associated with mating rather than predator avoidance.”

Coloring diurnal animals makes sense: the bright animal, in daylight, will be seen by other animals, including potential mates. This may make them bigger targets for predators as well, but the ability to find a mate and reproduce seems to be more important than not eating them. Females of this species are often faint in comparison, and therefore are better able to hide from predators and survive even the underdeveloped offspring.

But nocturnal animals sneak and spy in the dark. The male Night Snake does not use a bright color for a sexual signal if the female can’t see it.

“Warning colors have evolved even in species without eyes,” Wiens says. “It is doubtful whether most snakes or amphibians can see colour, so their bright colors are generally used to indicate predators rather than individuals of the same species.”

Instead, the researchers suggest that color may have evolved as a way to tell predators that might encounter a sleeping animal to stay away from them. But future research may reveal more details. The team hopes to delve into the evolution of bright colors to see if their functions have changed over time.

Meanwhile, the research shows that delving into the evolutionary history of animal traits may reveal patterns that no longer exist today.

The team’s research was published in has evolved.

#amazing #colors #animals #pattern

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *