While most of us are familiar with albinos, or those with a condition wherein there’s a lack of melanin production causing an absence of pigment, there is also such a thing as melanism. The black panther is actually a leopard with this characteristic, but what about other members of the animal kingdom?
Black deer? In my woodlands? It’s actually LESS likely than you think. According to Dr. John Baccus, director of the wildlife ecology program at Texas State University, “Even though we have more melanistic deer here than in the whole world, they’re still extremely rare. It’s the rarest of the white-tailed deer, even rarer than the big-antlered deer. I get the harvest records every year from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and generally, there are fewer than five of these melanistic deer that are harvested in any given year.”
Melanistic zebras aren’t all-black, though on occasion they come close. Instead, the mutation acts on the width of the black stripes, crowding out the white to varying degrees. Sometimes the effect is startling and unusual, depending on the strength of the melanistic gene and how it acts on certain individuals.
Full story at WebEcoist.
Black sheep of the animal kingdom.Author on Google+