Have you been lucky enough to come across an albino animal? These distinctive albino animals are fascinating, but did you know that there are also animals that are the opposite of an albino? They are called melanistic animals – who are black, or a likeness of black instead of what their ‘usual’ colour should be.
These are animals that have lost all of their pigmentation’s in the skin and are known as what is called Albinism in animals An interesting fact is if they have fur, then the fur would also be white (2)
This is an uncommon genetic mutation.
Melanistic (Black) Fawn
When it comes to Melanism it is mostly the same type of condition as Albinism, but the mutation of genes being the particular ones that trigger dark pigmentation than the light pigmentation. Animals that have Melanism will look like they are black. A diverse range of animals can have this mutation, although it is more prevalent in some than others. In particular, Panthers are known to be melanistic jaguars – same species, but just with Melanism present. (1, 3)
Melanistic Big Cats aka Black Panthers
There is yet another type of pigmentation, called Pseudo-melanism or Abundism that will create a much darker colour in an animal than what is should be. In the instance of Jaguars and Zebras, their spots and stripes will be a great deal bigger than they usually are and this will result in the perception of being a lot darker, although not essentially completely black. (1)
Melanistic (all black) Ratsnake
Adpative melanism can be passed down the line of generations, but also can be a part of evolution too. The Black panthers dark colour lends itself to the animal hunting preference to be when darkness falls or under deep foliage cover to aid in their camouflage(1, 2)
Other types of Pigmentation
There are another 3 types of pigmentation variants other than Albinism and Melanism that occur in nature:
- Erythrism: more red and orange pigment.
- Xanthism: more yellow pigment blended with a lack of other pigmentation.
- Axanthism: less of yellow pigmentation. The reason why some of the frog species appear bright blue instead of the standard green/grey colour.
A stark reminder of how captivating and intrinsically wonderful nature is and how fortunate you should consider yourself if you ever have the opportunity to spot one of these beautiful creatures.
Melanistic (Black) Wolf
Melanistic (Black) Zebra
Melanistic (Black) Red Fox
Melanistic (Black) Eastern Blue Tongue Lizards
Melanistic (Black) Seal
Melanistic Eastern Grey Squirrel (Black Squirrel)