All about the use of color by artists, scientists and psychologists.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Animals with the Midas Touch
A golden bat recently discovered in Boliviahas joined the ranks of nature’s richly gilded creatures.
The newly described Myotis midastactus is named after Midas, the king of Greek legend who turned everything he touched to gold.
The discovery was made after comparing specimens from museum collections in a study led by Ricardo Moratelli, a wildlife biologist at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fundação Oswaldo Cruz) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Thought to be confined to central Bolivia’s tropical savanna region, M. midastactus’s “peculiar and distinctive fur color” is a puzzle, Moratelli admitted.
“Apparently it is not related to camouflage, because two other species of Myotis that occur in the same area are consistently darker and use similar [daytime] roosts,” he said.
Another, unrelated South American bat, Noctilio albiventris, does share the newfound bat’s coloration. Since both species eat colorful insects, their diet may influence their striking appearance, Moratelli added.
Here are more animals that dazzle us with their golden splendor:
Named for a lustrous, lion-like mane that frames its dark, impish face, the golden lion tamarin may get its color from exposure to tropical sunlight and a liking for foods rich in carotenoid, a pigment responsible for yellow colors in nature.
Golden Poison Dart Frog
Another South American resident, the golden poison dart frog (Phyllobates terribilis) gleams luridly as a warning to predators. The amphibian’s skin contains potent alkaloid toxins that target nerve cells, causing heart and respiratory failure.
Fatal even to large animals, including humans, the frog’s toxin was famously used by indigenous hunters in Colombia to poison their blowpipe darts.
Where the frog collects the ingredients for its lethal toxin is unknown, though scientists suspect that a diet based on prey beetles from the Melyridae familymay be responsible.