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Updated: 08/28/2014 08:00:02AM

Oops — forgot the paint

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florida fauna • josh olive

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Does Mother Nature make mistakes? Um — yeah. All the time. Sometimes the mistakes are little: One leg a little longer than the other, or one eye a little smaller. Sometimes they’re much more noticeable. For example, when she forgets to apply the paint job before sending a creature out into the world.

There are many forms of color aberrations, but albinism — a total lack of pigment — is perhaps the most obvious. In mammals, this results in a white or near-white animal with pink or red eyes. The skin is pink or pinkish. For the many species that rely on cryptic coloration to evade detection by predators or by prey, it’s usually fatal quite early in life. Other animals survive, but are rarely as healthy as their normally colored counterparts, probably because they have a harder time gathering enough food. As predators, they’re easier to avoid, and as prey they’re easier to catch. Also, with no sun-blocking pigment, they’re very prone to sunburn and skin cancers. Rough life.

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