Wild Things: Life as We Know It
Flamingos, T. rex Tails, Burmese monkeys and more...
- By Amanda Bensen, T.A. Frail, Megan Gambino, Jess Righthand and Sarah Zielinski
- Smithsonian magazine, January 2011
Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber roseus) cleaning its plumage (Michael Weber / Imagebroker / FLPA)
A flamingo's pink color comes from pigments concentrated in the brine shrimp and other foods it eats. How does a flamingo attract a mate after its feathers fade? Cosmetics, according to a study in Spain. Males and females secrete pigments from a gland near the tail, and they rub the secretions on their feathers, brightening their color during breeding season. Once a flamingo has found a mate, it spends less time applying makeup.
Learn more about the greater flamingo at the Encyclopedia of Life.
"Greater flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus use uropygial secretions as make-up," Juan A. Amat et al., Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, October 23, 2010
"An indigenous religious ritual selects for resistance to a toxicant in a livebearing fish," M. Tobler et al., Biology Letters, September 8, 2010
"Mutualistic mycorrhiza-like symbiosis in the most ancient group of land plants," Claire P. Humphreys et al., Nature Communications, November 2, 2010
"A New Species of Snub-Nosed Monkey, Genus Rhinopithecus Milne-Edwards, 1872 (Primates, Colobinae), From Northern Kachin State, Northeastern Myanmar," Thomas Geissmann et al., American Journal of Primatology, October 27, 2010
"The Tail of Tyrannosaurus: Reassessing the Size and Locomotive Importance of the M. caudofemoralis in Non-Avian Theropods," W. Scott Persons IV and Philip J. Currie, The Anatomical Record, November 12, 2010