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Why do animals use bright colors differently

About the episode

Some animals use their striking colors to attract friends, others to deter enemies. How can the function of bright colors differ so much between species?

That’s what researchers at the University of Arizona are trying to find out. They studied the color patterns of terrestrial vertebrates to see how they evolved. What they found was a strong link between the function of bright colors and the day/night rhythm of their ancestors.

More specifically, species that use their bright colors to attract mates appear to descend primarily from ancestors who were active during the day. Species that use their bright colors to deter enemies descend from ancestors that were active at night. Today, oddly enough, this link no longer exists.

What they also saw was the use of red, orange, and yellow for both functions: attraction and deterrence. While blue is mainly used to attract partners.

In follow-up research, they want to dig deeper into the mystery of color, as well as into other species and insects. Because the discovery is great, but the mystery is far from complete.

Read more: Bright colors in the animal kingdom: why some use them to impress and others to intimidate.

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