For the most of us, a golden, turquoise or a bright pink animal may be considered strange or odd, yet Nature seems set to show us that its beauty comes in many hues, many of which are beyond the scope of what we have seen, imagined or conjured up in our most poetic moments. These are just nine of Nature's most beautifully colored creatures.
(contributed by our reader, Emma Hyam)
1. The White Peacock
Similar to a willow in fragility and to a snowflake in its pristine whiteness, the white peacock is equally dazzling as its multi-hued counterpart, and is often viewed as a symbol of purity. This bird isn't albino, however; rather, it displays a genetic mutation called leucism, which causes the absence of pigments in its feathers. Unlike albino mammals, which have pink or red eyes, white peacocks and peahens have blue eyes. Don’t be fooled if you see a peahen with her flock of tiny yellow chicks; as they mature, they will change in hue, undergoing a transformation as dramatic and beautiful as that of the ‘Ugly Duckling’ into a beautiful swan.
2. The Akhal Teke Horse
The Akhal-Teke, known as the 'Supermodel of the horse world', comes in a wide array of colors, including palomino, perlino, grey, chestnut, black and bay, though the most visually stunning are surely those with a shimmering golden hue, which lends this rare and beautiful animal an other-worldly appearance. One of the most highly prized varieties of Akhal-Teke is the Cremello, which has light pinkish skin and cool grey eyes. These horses are a national emblem of Turkmenistan, where they were originally bred; currently, there are little more than 6,500 in the world. They are bred in Russia, Central Asia, some European countries, Uruguay, the USA and Australia, and they fetch quite a price among avid horse buffs, who logically take every step they can to protect their much coveted pet against injury and illness. Despite its exoticism, this horse is a sturdy and active one, which is often used in dressage, show jumping, racing, and many more activities.
3. The Red-Headed Agama
These cute creatures are often compared to Spiderman, and indeed, they are every inch the superhero, withstanding temperatures of around 90º and feasting on small mammals as well as insects and other lizards. If you are considering them as a pet, bear in mind that they have very specific needs – for one, they need a lot of space, since closed-in areas cause stress. Also, watch out for their tails – they are known to inflict injury on their enemies with unforgiving and rather relentless tail lashings!
4. The Flamingo Tongue Snail
This amazingly drawn sea snail boasts a bright orange-yellow hue with bold black markings. The color is present on live tissue that covers the shell, not on the shell itself. The flamingo loves feeding on polyps found on soft coral – fortunately for both, the polyps usually grow back again!
5. The Rare Pink Katydid
This bright-colored insect isn’t exactly a natural at camouflage, but then again, it is precisely this ‘flaw’ that makes it such a wonder to behold. The smartest pink katydids usually find that while they stand out against green leaves, bright pink flowers are the perfect spot in which to hide away from the world.
6. The Mandarin Duck
This perching duck from east Asia is closely related to the North American Wood Duck. Despite its appealing appearance, it is one of the few duck species that is not hunted for food – apparently, they aren’t very tasteful!
7. The Pink Headed Reed Snake
Despite the bright color of its head, this small snake is non-venomous and is a happy forest dweller, feeding on small invertebrates and insects. The reed snake also likes to cross rocky terrain and hide in trees so if you see its colorful head pop out from between a couple of branches, fear not; it’s probably just after an insect!
8. The Christmas Tree Worm
This joyful-looking sea worm may have little use to its marine companions, but it is of great interest to divers from all over the world. Its spirals are complex feeding stations which transport prey from the sea into its hungry mouth.
9. The Nudibranch
This soft-bodied mollusk comes in an array of shapes and sizes, growing as small as 0.25 inches or as large as 12 inches. Their super sensitive tentacles enable them to identify and obtain color from their prey, thus enabling them to defend themselves against predators through camouflage.