Why aren't rabbits green?

Leighton.Pritchard bap96164 at strath.ac.uk
Wed Nov 6 05:58:32 EST 1996

David R. Waddell wrote:
> >And why has no
> >other similar mammal evolved green skin or fur,
> I am not sure this is 100% true. I think there are
> monkeys with green pigments.
> It is interesting that organisms that adapt to living
> in caves lose their visual pigments fairly rapidly. At
> least these pigments are probably bad to have if vision
> is no longer possible.

I agree. There would be no advantage in having a particular kind of
pigment, so there would be no selection pressure towards obtaining or
maintaining a pigment. In the case where there is no advantage at all to
pigmentation, the biological cost of producing pigment at the expense of
some other process may be a disadvantage.
> For temperate regions green pigment would definitely
> be bad in winter since it is a dead giveaway.

Absolutely true (at least, if it snows regularly). For example, one
might expect that a coat which is 60% concealing in summer rough ground
and 60% concealing in winter rough ground might be more consistently
successful in fooling predators than mottled green (90% concealing in
summer, 10% concealing in winter), or the converse pure white -
depending on environment, of course.

Incidentally, does anyone know if domestic white rabbits are albinos or
domesticated wild (or selectively bred) white rabbits?




The views expressed above are not necessarily those of the University of 
Strathclyde. This is not surprising, as the University is a large 
collection of buildings with no opinions of their own.

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