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Name: Michelle Spencer
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Question:
Here is a question from my 6 year old daughter I couldn't answer. Are there any mammals that have green fur? It would be a good camouflage in green plants.



Replies:
Michelle,

I, too, could not think of any green-furred mammals. One comment that I can make, is that evolution seems to favor conservation and best-use. What I mean by both those topics is (1) for camouflage, the body should only have to produce the needed pigments (no use wasting time and energy producing unneeded pigments.) If you consider the location of the green area of most plants, it is generally the leaf are, which already is usually located off the ground and would probably separate most species from at least their crawling predators. So perhaps no further pigment is necessary, unless the animal might consider moving about on the ground. In that case, to match forest litter (like strewn leaves --tans and browns (which also matches some soil and tree-trunk colors) would be a 'less-expensive' task for the animal.) (2) As far as best-use is concerned. The animal could use a brown/tan pigment for more of the year then it would be able to use a green pigment. In snow a green pigment would be a real target....tan or brown on the other hand might blend in well with leaves or dried grasses/shrubs. If an animal were greens, to survive in the winter it might have to change to a different color, and having such a mechanism would be expensive in terms of maintaining it for the animal. You know of green frogs and toads....these are not mammals, but they are neither around in the wintertime when their green pigment might be hazardous to their existence.

I hope this offers some 'food for thought'.

Ric

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