Animals with black skin or fur are not black by chance, suggests new research, but because the dark coloration helps them live longer. The finding adds to the growing body of evidence that black coloration isn’t just a product of genetic drift — happenstance in the course of evolution
The coloration stems from melanism, or development of the dark-colored pigment melanin in the skin and its appendages (fur, hair, eyelashes, etc.). How melanism directly ties to better health, however, remains a mystery.
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“We don’t know for certain,” said Gregory Barsh of the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, co-author of the study that appeared in PLOS Genetics. “Factors such as foliage, humidity, temperature, and/or infectious agents are all possibilities, and could affect camouflage, resistance to heat or thermoregulation, or resistance to infections.” Read more…
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