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Charming critters you likely never knew existed

Posted on October 11, 2020 | Comments

Scientists in Hong Kong are tickled pink to report that rare pink dolphins are making a comeback appearance in its waterways because COVID-19 shut down high-speed ferries between Hong Kong and Macau in March. These animated animals are also making a stylish splash since sorbet pink is a trendy color choice for fall 2020. With a little bit more research, turns out there are a dozen-plus animals that could join in this season’s fashion parade. Following are a few of my fascinating favorites.

Not overly crazy about salamanders? Then check out the charming, pink axolot. These guys definitely qualify for the lovable category and magically regenerate their limbs. Polluted waterways and lack of agreement among scientists threatens this charming creature that resides in Mexico. Pink Katydids give axotols a run for the adorably cute title and inspired a century of discussion figuring out how the usual green or brown katydids get their incredibly pink hue. Entomologists now agree with William Morton Wheeler who claimed in 1907 that pink katydids are a genetic mutant.

Bargibant’s seahorse (or pygmy seahorse) and web-footed geckos both rely on their colors to protect them. Fan corals shield the half-inch pygmy seahorses and it’s the same with salmon-colored skin of the geckos that hide out in the reddish sands of the Namib Desert. Their added defense mechanisms include sounds such as clicks, squeaks, and croaks.

In Indonesia, what was originally thought to be a carnivorous pink orchid that ate butterflies from flower petals turns out to be a flower-mimicking insect more commonly known as the orchid mantis. Typically animals use flowers as camouflage while the orchid mantis poses as flowers to catch their prey. Scientists were surprised to find that the mantises attract more insects than real flowers do.

There’s a tie for the “Oscar” award of fashion. It’s between an elephant hawk moth that has the unusual distinction of being named after a mammal, a bird, and an insect, and a hairy squat lobster. The olive-green background of the moth is highlighted with dazzling  dusty pink tones easily hiding them in willowherbs and fuchsias. Hovering like hummers, they can travel at speeds up to 12 miles per hour. The hairy squat lobster is actually a fairy crab the same size as the pygmy seahorse. In the case of this creature that resides amongst pink giant barrel sponges, a picture is worth a thousand words. Actually that’s true for all of these Mother Nature fashion gems. A quick look online offers plenty of colorful images. So, which one gets your vote?  

Originally published, OC Register, October 9, 2020

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