WHY ARE FLAMINGOS PINK?





Its is obvious isn't it? Flamingos eat shrimp. The shrimp are pink and so the pink goes into the feathers of the flamingo making the flamingo pink? Well unfortunately not as the truth is a little more complicated that that - as I shall explain.

It is true that flamingoes Flamingos filter-feed on brine shrimp and blue-green algae, but it's not the the colour of the food that makes the flamingo pink, but the chemicals inside. The brine shrimp has the same issue as the flamingoes as they are not naturally pink either.

The pink comes from the natural plant pigment astaxanthin. This is a pink pigment produced by plants and algae and it is the very same astaxanthin pigment that give Flamingos their pink colour.


This is how it works. When the brine shrimps eat algae the astaxanthin contained in them is incorporated into their chitin shell. When the Flamingos eat the shrimps the flamingos then they in turn incorporate the pigment into their feathers.

Incidentally this is also why the meat or muscle of an adult wild salmon is pink. Farmed salmon raised on meal lacking the pigment have white appearing muscle. This is also why when you cook shrimp or lobster or crab they turn bright pink to red in colour. Shrimps and lobsters don't look pink at first due to proteins in the shell obscuring the pigment. When the protein is denatured (cooked) it reveals the wonderful pink-red colour.

For related articles click onto the following links:
FLAMINGO FACTS
WHAT DO FLAMINGOS EAT?
WHERE DO FLAMINGOS LIVE?
WHY ARE FLAMINGOS PINK?

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