(images via: James Gunter Studio)
The amazing silver frogs captured photographically above by James Gunter live in small pools situated within blisteringly hot and dry desert environments. It may be that these frogs have evolved semi-transparent reflective skin in order to deflect the sun’s more damaging visible and ultraviolet rays. Frogs and other amphibians respire partially through their skin and dehydration is always an issue – in the desert, keeping moist would be paramount.
Leapin’ lizards! Well, even stationary lizards can be silver, at least certain parts thereof. And in certain parts of Australia, several species of Skinks exhibit at least some degree of silvery scaliness. As is the usual case with “metallic animals”, no actual metal is required to effect a reflective appearance. Rather, these creatures have evolved metallic shininess as a survival strategy we just happen to think looks pretty.
Snakes and lizards are both reptiles and both feature oft-colorful scales adorning their bodies. Some species of snakes have scales so shiny they appear to be reflective under the right lighting conditions. Such silvery snakes aren’t as exotic as one might think: the relatively common Rat Snakes above gleam with a soft silver glow that belies their humble origins.
The Silver Fox is a melanistic variation of the more common Red Fox – approximately 8 percent of wild foxes in Canada display glossy, silvery fur that on close inspection is actually made up of dark brown, gray and white hairs. Silver Foxes are the subjects of an ongoing experiment in fox domestication instigated by Russian scientist Dmitry Belyaev in 1959. Belyaev bred Silver Foxes for tameness over many generations and observed the foxes gradually becoming more dog-like in both their behavior and their appearance. One result of the experiment was that the selectively bred Silver Foxes lost their “silver” fur in favor of multicolored coats more commonly seen on domesticated dogs, cats, cows and pigs.
Going gray… not just for people anymore! It’s not known why aged male gorillas go gray on their backs and hindquarters; it’s also not clear if other gorillas note the distinctive look of such “silverbacks” and adjust their behavior accordingly. Suffice to say that in gorilla society, as it were, being a silverback means you’ve made it to the peak of power and influence. Reaching a state of silveriness is common to both mountain Gorillas and their Lowland cousins. Unlike humans, curiously, only male gorillas go gray in the manner.
(image via: Glamorous Gamer Girls)
Humans may be animals but there’s nothing more exotic than changing one’s appearance with silver or other metallic body paint and makeup. That’s because unlike our animal relatives, humans haven’t evolved body parts that are sufficiently reflective to be considered silvery. Mirror, mirror, on my skin, who’s the fairest, me or my kin?