How do you make a panther BLACK?

 
“Black panthers” are actually melanistic leopards or jaguars. Melanism is a condition that causes animals to be a lot darker than the “normal” color for that species — the opposite of albinism. This is thought to be an adaptation for camouflage, especially for night hunting. Interestingly, some species developed more melanistic individuals seemingly in response to the soot created during the industrial age. This is called industrial melanism, as opposed to adaptive melanism. 😛

 

 
Melanins — not to be confused with melatonin the sleep hormone — are natural pigments found in most organisms. They absorb light and protect against harmful UVB radiation and cancer.

 
A selection of melanistic individuals (click to view larger):

 
More on melanism:
Wikipedia
Free Dictionary
24 melanistic animal photos
Black Beauties
What is a Black Panther, Really?

 

 


 

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