Black & White and the Wonders of Nature
In the natural world, the absence of bright colours is anything but dull. Black or white, or combinations of both, adorn some of nature's most charismatic creatures.
The Panda's scientific name, Ailuropoda melanoleuca, literally translates as 'black and white cat-foot'.
Well-known for liking shiny objects, Magpies are also shiny themselves - their glossy black feathers take on an iridescent violet or green sheen when viewed from certain angles!
Despite appearances, Polar Bears are more truly black than white. Their skin is black, as can be seen in their snout and nose, and their hairs are actually transparent. The white appearance is due to the hollow nature of the hairs, which scatters light and makes it appear white, in the same way, ice and snow appear white.
The Orca's pale underbelly and dark back is a form of camouflage called countershading. When viewed from below, the white belly blends better with the lightness of the sky. From above, the black back matches the dark surface of the sea. The shape of the boundary between the black and white also helps break up the outline of the orca, making it appear smaller to its prey.
Zebras are one of the most familiar black-and-white animals. Each species has its own general stripe pattern, but the exact pattern is unique to the individual, like a fingerprint.
Compiled using excerpts from the article:
Rainbow nature: Life in bold black and white By Hayley Dunning and Lisa Hendry
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