Nature is a truly wonderful thing and always offers up some amazing sights.
For example, there’s a lot of beautiful animals in the world, from the overly large to the soft and small, each species having something completely different to offer.
Nature can also through up some oddities as well, such as albino animals. These rare variations are due to genetic mutations and the animals are completely white as the pigment in their skin contains no melanin. Seeing one in the wild is a huge accomplishment in itself.
There is of course, another end of the spectrum and this is known as melanism.
Melanism is the opposite of albinism and is characterized by an over development of dark-colored pigment in the skin and appendages making the affected animal appear almost completely black.
The word ‘melanism’ comes a Greek word meaning ‘black pigment’.
Pseudo-melanism is another variant of pigmentation in animals and refers to dark spots or enlarged stripes that cover a large part of the body of the animal making it appear melanistic, rather than being totally black, such as the black zebra below.
While most types of melanism are due to mutated genes, there are some forms of melanism that relate to the process of adaptation. This, not surprisingly, is called adaptive melanism with the most common reasons being hunting and survival.
Dark individuals become become better adapted to survive and reproduce in their environment as they are better camouflaged, basically evolution in practice. This makes some species less conspicuous to predators, while others, such as melanistic ratsnakes, use it as a an advantage when hunting during the night.
Adaptive melanism is typically hereditary and is passed down through generations due to a dominant gene. Many animals have shown some form of adaptive melanism such as squirrels, many feline and canine variants and certain reptiles.
These beautiful animals are certainly impressive to look at and seeing one up close and personal in real life would be even more amazing. The chances of that happening are extremely low though so for now, we can just sit back and admire these melanistic animals in all their glory!