Why are flamingos pink?

Wednesday 22nd July 2009
Submitted by Len Fisher
John Findlay, Edinburgh

Actually, flamingos are not pink. They are born with grey feathers, which gradually turn pink in the wild because of a natural pink dye called canthaxanthin that they obtain from their diet of brine shrimp and blue-green algae. Flamingos in zoos would often lose most of their pink colouration until keepers started adding synthetic canthaxanthin to their diets. Curiously, the same ingredient is sometimes added to sausages that we export to the continent.

Are there homosexual animals?
previous qanda Article
Is there any proof that intelligent people have more intelligent children?
next qanda Article
Q&A Tabs

Phlegm is the mucous secretion of the respiratory passages. The cilia cells that line these passages are continually driving the phlegm upward to the throat, where it triggers the swallow reflex...

It depends on the temperature of the water. In cold water, the bacterial action that causes a body to bloat with gas may be so slowed that the body stays on the seabed. The skin will absorb water...

Ordinary glass absorbs 97 per cent of the UVB rays that cause sunburn and some skin cancers, and 37 per cent of the less harmful UVA radiation. This translates to a protection of about SPF30, so...

The strongest teeth are natural, healthy ones and these teeth are not white. At least, not white like the colour of paper, or even the colour of piano keys. They are a couple of shades darker than...

Beard hair is quite different to head hair; it is coarser, curlier and doesn't fall out as we get older. Comparatively little work has been done on the genetics of human hair colour, but it is...

All female mammals have a clitoris, the sole purpose of which is to react to sexual stimulation, and presumably this stimulation has evolved to be pleasurable for most species. But establishing...

To create a sound, we have to set matter - whether it's a gas like air, a liquid or even a solid material - in regular motion, creating a wave of specific frequencies, which we hear as a sound of...

Mirrors don’t reverse left and right either – that’s just our interpretation of what happens. Your reflection in the mirror is actually reversed front to back – if you have...

Discovered by an American student named Gary Flandro in the mid-1960s, the slingshot manoeuvre usually involves spacecraft briefly 'coat-tailing' a planet orbiting the Sun, extracting some of the...

The ice disappears because the wind blows away water molecules that have evaporated or 'sublimed' from the ice, so the ice slowly shrinks in size. The molecules that escape are those with the...