Melanistic Animals Are The Opposite Of Albino Animals
While albino animals are mostly white, melanistic animals are dark… and in most cases almost entirely black. The word “melanism” itself is from a Greek word that translates to “black pigment”.
While rare in nature, albino animals are basically found everywhere from the sky to the seas. They have a loss of pigmentation, which results in white or pale fur or skin, especially in relation to other members of their species.
The key difference between the albino animals and the melanistic animals is that albino means loss of pigmentation whereas melanistic means an abundance of pigmentation.
What Causes Melanism?
Melanism and melanistic animals are a result of an over-development of melanin in the skin and in some cases fur as well.
It can turn animals all or partly black. It’s frequently called a “mutation” of genes. However, interestingly enough, melanistic animals are often more adaptable to their environments.
To get scientific on you, melanism is mostly due to mutations of the extension gene resulting in variations in MC1R. It can also be mutations of the agouti gene resulting in variation in ASIP.
While these are the two main mutations, genetic studies have also identified many different genes which can cause different types of melanism.
How Rare Is Melanism?
Melanism is quite rare. There are some types of animals which tend to be more melanistic than others (such as black dogs for example). You’ll also find some more rare animals that barely ever show up as completely black.
One example of an extremely rare melanistic animals is the melanistic rooster. Yet another is the melanistic deer!
Check out the gallery below of melanistic animals, and be prepared to marvel at these absolutely stunning beasts!
10 Mesmerizing Melanistic Animals Who Show Their Dark Side
I’ve seen a lot of deer in my life but I’ve NEVER seen a black one like this!
2. Melanistic Fox
The melanism of animals, such as this striking fox, can help them hunt better at night. For some animals, it also makes them less visible to predators.
3. Melanistic Squirrel
I’ve definitely seen these guys before, I just didn’t know that there was an official term for them.
4. Melanistic Leopard
Here’s a cool tidbit for you: A black panther is actually a melanistic variant of the leopard and the jaguar.
5. Melanistic Gecko
Yet another one that I’ve never seen before. Even the eyes are black as night!
6. Melanistic Rooster
What an absolutely stunning creature. It’s incredible how the face, claws, and all of the feathers are such a dark black.
7. Melanistic Cats
In the world of melanistic animals, I wonder if having blue eyes earns these cats extra mating points.
8. Melanistic Lizard
These dark and gorgeous reptiles actually look like baby alligators. Sadly, as you can imagine, breeding such rare and gorgeous creatures is an industry unto itself.
9. Melanistic Flamingo
I love how this guy looks like a poster for the odd one out. I wonder if he gets snubbed by the other pink flamingos or if he’s more of a hit with the ladies because he looks different. By the way, I have no grounds for believing this is a male. Who knows!
10. Melanistic Porcupine!
Potentially the cutest of this entire gallery, the melanistic porcupine is really something else. I hope, however, that this fella isn’t more susceptible to being hit by cars at night because he’s so dark!
Related: For equally compelling animal photos, check out these cats on glass tables!