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An erythristic Welsh polecat

Erythrism or erythrochroism refers to an unusual reddish pigmentation of an animal's hair, skin, feathers, or eggshells.[1]

Causes of erythrism include:

  • Genetic mutations which cause an absence of a normal pigment and/or excessive production of others[2]
  • Diet, as in bees feeding on "bright red corn syrup" used in maraschino cherry manufacturing.[3]

Erythrism in katydids has been occasionally observed. The coloring might be a camouflage that helps some members of the species survive on red plants.[4] There is also consensus that the erythristic mutation is actually a dominant trait among katydid species, albeit a disadvantageous one, due to the overwhelmingly green coloration of most foliage. Hence, most pink or otherwise vividly colored katydids do not survive to adulthood, and this observation explains their rarity.[5] Erythrism in leopards is rare, but one study[6] reported that two of twenty-eight leopards seen in camera traps in a South African nature reserve were erythristic, and the authors found records of five other "strawberry" leopards from the region.[7]


See also


  1. ^ Dariusz Bukaciński and Monika Bukacińska (1997), "Production of Erythristic Eggs by the Black-Headed Gull in Poland", Wilson Bull., 109 (1), Wilson Ornithological Society: 177–182, JSTOR 4163790
  2. ^ Helen Hays and Kenneth C. Parkes (1993), "Erythristic Eggs in the Common Tern", J. Field Ornithol., 64 (3), Association of Field Ornithologists: 341–345, JSTOR 4513830
  3. ^ Schmidt, Sarah (December 1, 2010). "Helping Brooklyn's Red Stingers Get Off The Juice". onEarth. Archived from the original on December 24, 2010.
  4. ^ Gary Noel Ross (1 June 2003), "Pretty in pink", Natural History
  5. ^ Stone, Daniel (March 2013). Easier Being Green. National Geographic. p. 19.
  6. ^ Pirie, Tara J.; Thomas, Rebecca L.; Fellowes, Mark D. E. (2016-05-20). "Erythristic leopards Panthera pardus in South Africa". Bothalia. 46 (1): 5. doi:10.4102/abc.v46i1.2034. ISSN 2311-9284.
  7. ^ "Ultra-rare 'strawberry' leopards discovered in South Africa (Photos)". Earth Touch News Network. Retrieved 2020-02-29.
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