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Xanthochromistic Argentine horned frog
Regular Argentine horned frog
A xanthochromistic and normal Argentine horned frog

Xanthochromism (also called xanthochroism or xanthism), from the Greek xanthos (ξανθός) "yellow" and chroma (χρώμα) "color", is an unusually yellow pigmentation in an animal. It is often associated with the lack of usual red pigmentation and its replacement with yellow. The cause is usually genetic but may also be related to the animal's diet. A Cornell University survey of unusual-looking birds visiting feeders reported that 4% of such birds were described as xanthochromistic (compared with 76% albinistic). The opposite of xanthochromism, a deficiency in or complete absence of yellow pigment, is known as axanthism.

Birds exhibiting genetic xanthochromism, especially deliberately bred mutations of several species of parrot in aviculture, are termed "lutinos". Wild birds in which xanthochromism has been recorded include yellow wagtail, wood warbler, Cape May warbler, rose-breasted grosbeak, evening grosbeak, red-bellied woodpecker, scarlet tanager, northern cardinal, great spotted woodpecker, common tailorbird, crimson-breasted shrike, kākāriki and kea.

See also


  • Cornell University Project Feeder Watch 2002-2003 Accessed 19 March 2007.
  • Helleiner CW (1979). "Xanthochroism in the Evening Grosbeak". Canadian Field-Naturalist. 93 (1): 66–7.
  • Isted, Deloris (1985). "A xanthochroistic male Purple Finch". Bulletin of the Oklahoma Ornithological Society. 18 (4): 31.
  • Schnell, Gary D; Caldwell, Larry D (1966). "Xanthochroism in a Cape May Warbler". Auk. 83 (4): 667–8. doi:10.2307/4083162. JSTOR 4083162.
  • Schwartz FJ (1978). "Xanthochromism in Epinephelus drummondhayi (Pisces: Serranidae) caught off North Carolina". Northeast Gulf Science. 2 (1): 62–4. doi:10.18785/negs.0201.06.

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