Tag Archive: Color of Life


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Orders: Lophiiformes (Anglerfishes)
Family: Antennaridae (frogfishes)

Genus/species: Antennarius maculatus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Large dark spot is located under the dorsal fin and can also have black spots on the body and fins. Their thick skin is covered by dermal spicules which are spiky and look like warts. The frogfish has small, laterally directed eyes but a large mouth. The mouth is upturned and can expand to the width of the body to swallow prey. It has small gill openings which are situated behind the pectoral fins.


Length up to 15 cm (6 inches)

 Frogfishes pectoral fins are modified and look like feet, including small toes. They are able to use the leg-like fins to walk across the bottom of the ocean floor.


The first dorsal spine, the illicium is modified and is used as a fishing rod. Its extremity is endowed with a characteristic esca (lure), which looks like a small fish with a pinkish to brownish coloration.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Indian and Western Pacific Oceans among sheltered rocky reefs, algae, sponges and soft corals to 15 meters (49 feet).  It is a reef dweller, perching on coral ledges.

DIET IN THE WILD: Carnivore. Each frogfish species moves the rod (illicium) with its lure (esca) in a special pattern to attract the attention of potential prey. The frogfish can swallow fish, its main diet, that are larger in size than itself. It lowers it lower jaw and expands its upper jaw to expand the mouth, then it sucks the prey in by creating suction in the mouth, a maneuver called gape and suck reported to take only 1/6th of a second.

REPRODUCTION: Frogfish are oviparous; Eggs are bound in ribbon-like sheath or mass of gelatinous mucus called ‘egg raft’ or ‘veil’.
During mating they do not tolerate each other except for the act of fertilization. The female can kill or eat the male if he stays close.

LIFESPAN: 3-5 years.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List Not Evaluated

LIFESPAN: 3-5 years.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List Not Evaluated


The longlure frogfish does not have a swim bladder, so it does not swim very often. It moves by sucking water in its mouth and expelling it through its gills.

Frogfishes are able to change colors (from yellow to red or green to brown) to match nearby sponges or corals and their black spots mimic openings (ostia) of sponges.

The frogfish exhibits biofluorescence, that is, when illuminated by blue or ultraviolet light, it re-emits it as red, which may assist intraspecific communication and camouflage.


Note: The above frogfish photos were of multiple different fishes taken between 2008 and 2018 at the California Academy of Sciences San Francisco, CA. 

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium, Hidden Reef 2018

Reproduction:  http://www.pbase.com/imagine/frogfishspawn

Florida Museum  www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/fish/discover/species-profiles/…

EOL  http://eol.org/pages/205404/details

fishbase  http://fishbase.org/summary/Antennarius-maculatus.html

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-jX

Reef sites (color changes) http://www.readcube.com/articles/10.1007/s00338-016-1500-6?author_access_token=QUU5tuAAHyf1lyvDYxkzJPe4RwlQNchNByi7wbcMAY7Z0HBANUYKVVBBJDO0QDoP-bDRJZ9Bhk4OJAon8AHurEXVNikB9zR_mJh84KLzMLA2wUITSMK6S7kRi0s4vsexmplaeSw93llcvBJo7jTI_g%3D%3D

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/8296644088/in/album-72157652559028013/

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Scorpaeniformes (Scorpionfishes and flatheads)
Family: Sebastidae (Rockfishes, rockcods and thornyheads)

Genus/species: Sebastes carnatus

 CHARACTERISTICS: They are generally mottled appearance, with dark areas generally olive to reddish-brown, and the lighter areas being white or pinkish. The upper part of the back almost always has three light patches extending into the dorsal fins, and the lighter areas become more extensive ventrally.

Length: Up to 39.0 cm (15 inches).


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Pacific coast from Oregon, to southern Baja California. S. carnatus is found in intertidal zone, but most occur at depths of 12–80 m (40-250 ft), living in crevices and holes during the day, and ranging further abroad at night.


REPRODUCTION: Viviparous, with planktonic larvae

LIFESPAN: 30 years.            

CONSERVATION: IUCN, not evaluated. 

REMARKS: Gopher Rockfish are extremely closely related to the Black-and-Yellow Rockfish. S. chrysomelas is darker brown or black with yellow patches, and tends to prefer shallower water. S. carnatus has pinkish spots on a brown background, The two types are apparently genetically indistinguishable, and may represent a single species with two color morphs. The two species are otherwise identical.

Color of life note: Rockfishes have disruptive camouflage which helps them blend in to that textured and hued background.

California Academy of Sciences Color of life Exhibit 2015

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/s1DZ4b-2497

California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium California Coastal Marine Exhibit 2017

Ron’s flickr  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608333101710/

BioOne www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1643/CG-02-061R2?journalCode=cope

eol eol.org/pages/215479/details

fishbase www.fishbase.org/summary/3956

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies)
Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)

Genus/species: Morpho peleides

Top-side (dorsal)

Blue Morpho 3175390675_70bdc9fe60_o

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Among the largest butterflies in the world, wing span from five to eight inches.

Color of Life notation: Color Sources, structural color, iridescence.
Wing tops are an iridescent blue, edged with black, caused not by a true color, such as the pigment dye of blue jeans, but by structural coloration resulting from tiny, overlapping scales that cover their wings. Because of the precise angle of the ridges they form, the scales which reflect blue light back to our eyes. The contrasting underside of the wing is brown with a confusion of eyespots that can startle a potential predator, thereby allowing the butterfly to escape predators. This is called deistic behavior.
Females less brilliantly colored.

Ref. California Academy of Sciences Color of Life Exhibit, May 2015

underside and topside

Blue Morpho Butterfly 4330619902_ec31e9c058_b

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Tropics of Latin America from Mexico to Colombia. Feeds and sleeps on or near the forest floor, but when mating, they fly throughout forest layers.

DIET IN THE WILD: Caterpillar, it chews leaves but adults can’t chew so they drinks juices of rotting plants and animals, tree sap, and wet mud, sipping all with its straw-like proboscis.

Underside (ventral)

REPRODUCTION: Like most butterflies, males release pheromones to attract females. Fertilized eggs hatch in about 9 days. The caterpillar of  M. peleides is red-brown with patches of bright green.

Blue Morpho Butterfly 8677456846_7df05acbb0_oLONGEVITY: Total lifespan: egg to adult, about 4.5 months; adults (butterflies): about 1 month.

PREDATORS: Birds (jacamar and flycatcher) and large insects.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Not Evaluated, but under some pressure as trophies for collectors and deforestation of tropical forests..

REMARKS:  M. peleides brilliant reflection is so intense that pilots report seeing their flash of color as the butterflies warm themselves above the treetops. Different angles of view (and so different angles of reflecting ridges) produce variations in the shades of blue perceived.


California Academy of Sciences Rainforest 2017

California Academy of Sciences Color of Life Exhibit 2015

Ron’s flickr  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608449327886/with/3175390675/

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-12J

Encyclopedia of Life eol.org/pages/139904/details

WAZA  www.waza.org/en/zoo/choose-a-species/invertebrates/insect…

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Caudata
Family: Salamandridae

Genus/species: Taricha torosa

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: It has a warty brown dorsal side and a yellow-orange ventral side. In outward appearance, Eyes extend beyond the profile of the head.

Taricha torosa22363814856_37c18ac5bf_o

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: West coast of the United States, mainly in California, extending from Humbolt County to San Diego. They prefer grassy regions but are most visible from December to May when they migrate back to their breeding ponds.

DIET: Slugs, worms, many insects, and other amphibians.

REPRODUCTION: External fertilization. The female lays egg masses of 7-30 eggs that are protected by a toxic membrane containing the same tetrodotoxin found in adults. Within 3 months, most of the larvae metamorphose into juveniles of about 2 inches (~5 cm) or slightly longer.


LONGEVITY: 12-15 years in the wild.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List Least Concern.

Some populations of T. torosa are threatened due to habitat destruction and the introduction of non-native predators such as mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) and crayfish. In the state of California sections of roads have been closed during the rainy season in order to protect the migrating newts.

REMARKS: These newts have relatively few predators other than man due to their highly potent tetrodotoxin. The main natural native predator is the common garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis). It is interesting to note that some garter snakes have developed a genetic resistance to tetrodotoxin.


California Academy of Sciences Color of Life Exhibit 2015

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/22363814856/in/album-72157652559028013/

Ron’s WordPress shortlink       http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1Bj

IUCN www.iucnredlist.org/details/59471/0

amphibiaweb  amphibiaweb.org/cgi/amphib_query?where-genus=Taricha&…

Caudata Culture www.caudata.org/cc/species/Taricha/T_torosa.shtml

NIH  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2726340/



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Order: Scorpiones
Family: Caraboctonidae (hairy scorpions)

Genus/species: Hadrurus arizonensis

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Black cephalothorax with pale yellow rimmed segments; pale yellow abdomen, pincer-like pedipalps, and legs; pale under-surface; and abundant erect dark brown sensory hairs.

Largest of the nine scorpion species in North America. Length 10 to 18 cm (3.94 to 7.09 in)
Ave. weight 5 g (0.18 oz)

They molt 4 to 6 times before reaching adulthood in about 4 years.


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Mexico, western Arizona, southern California and Nevada, southwestern Utah. Found in semi-arid and arid habitats. Dig and live in deep burrows in soil during summer.


DIET IN THE WILD: Although the venom of North American hairy scorpions is fairly week compared to most scorpions (about the same as a bee sting) these solitary predators immobilize and eat other scorpions, insects, spiders, small lizards and snakes. Forages at night for prey and mates.


REPRODUCTION: Scorpions reproduce sexually following an intricate mating behavior. Gestation lasts 6 to 12 months. Females give live birth to a large litter of 25 to 35 individuals. Occasionally, after mating, the female tracks down her mate and eats him.

LONGEVITY; Up to 25 years in captivity, ave, 7-10 in the wild.

PREDATORS: Owls and large lizards. When provoked they raise their legs and orienting themselves vertically, striking blindly at anything deemed threatening.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List, Not Evaluated

REMARKS: Venom in the scorpion’s stinger is used to subdue struggling prey and for self-defense. The venom is not very potent or painful to humans. Like all scorpions, has poor eyesight, excellent hearing, and a fine sense of touch (body hairs detect air and ground vibrations).

Color of Life note

Also like all scorpions, they fluoresce under ultraviolet light, a characteristic that allows scientists (and well-equipped backpackers) to detect them in the night and perhaps signals scorpions to avoid damaging UV light.

Ref. California Academy of Science Docent program 2015



California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, Little Water 2018 with exoskeleton

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/4770063879/in/album-72157608653175263/

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1zv

Animal diversity Web animaldiversity.org/accounts/Hadrurus_arizonensis/

Encyclopedia of Life eol.org/pages/3195616/details

Getty Images www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/giant-desert-hairy-scorp…


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
Family: Dorididae

Genus/species: Peltodoris nobilis

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Color variable: may be pale yellow to a deep rich yellow or orange. Back is covered with tubercules and dark spots. Fleshy antennae (sensory organs) and a rosette of gills protrude from the back of a sea lemon’s slim, flat body. One of the largest of all nudibranchs; 4 to 4.5 inches (10 to 11.5 cm).

Sea Lemon Nudibranch3124713462_3c7ecb3ff5_b

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: found from Alaska to Baja California in
rocky areas, mostly at low intertidal and subtidal depths to 300 feet (91 m). Often seen on harbor pilings. California is well-known for the diversity of nudibranchs found in its coastal waters.

DIET: uses a file-like radula to eat sponges.

Sea Lemon Nudibranch3123887143_7648580fb9_b

REPRODUCTION: like all nudibranchs, is hermaphroditic and can produce both sperm and eggs.

LIFE SPAN: approx. one year


REMARKS: P. nobilis is one several dorid nudibranchs with a fruity, distinct lemon scent usually given off when the animal is handled, thus its common name. When concentrated, the odor repels many predators.

COLOR OF LIFE Note: Concealment by camouflage. Has a bumpy surface typical of those corals and sponges.

Sea Lemon Nudibranch2997671850_b9f4546718_b


California Academy of Sciences Color of Life docent training 2015

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/2997671850/in/album-72157608597736188/

Metropolitan Oceanic Institute and Aquarium  www.svsu.edu/~tkschult/moia/sea-lemon.html

Monterey Bay Aquarium  www.montereybayaquarium.org/animal-guide/invertebrates/se…

EOL eol.org/pages/451875/details

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1AF


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (Ray-finned fishes)
Order: Tetraodontiformes (Puffers and filefishes)
Family: Tetraodontidae (Puffers)

Genus/species: Canthigaster valentini

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: C. valentini has a white body with four distinct black stripes on the upper half. The body is also covered with brownish-orange dots. It has yellow fins, and blue striping running along the back. It lacks pelvic fins, but has learned to use the pectoral fins to move about the aquarium.
Males have blue-green lines radiating from the back of the eyes. They are also larger than females and may also have a light gray patch in front of the anus.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Occurs throughout the tropical, marine Indo-Pacific where it is common and locally abundant. It inhabits a wide range of coral reef and seagrass habitats at depths ranging from 1 to 55 metres.

DIET IN THE WILD: Forages on the benthos, feeding mainly on filamentous green and red algae, tunicates, and on smaller amounts of corals, bryozoans, polychaetes, echinoderms, mollusks.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List Least Concern (LC)

REMARKS: They are capable of inflating their abdomens with water when frightened or disturbed.
They can produce toxins such as tetrodotoxin and saxitoxin in the skin, gonads, and liver. Try not to use a net when handling this fish since it’s flesh is poisonous.The degree of toxicity varies by species, and also according to geographic area and season.

Color of Life:Color Communicates. The Mimic filefish (not shown here) evades predators by mimicking the Sharpnose Puffer (Canthigaster valentini).

The Mimic filefish can be distinguished from the Sharpnose Puffer (highly poisonous) by comparing their dorsal fins. The Mimic filefish has two dorsal fins, while the Sharpnose Puffer above has only one. – See more at: australianmuseum.net.au/blacksaddle-filefish-paraluteres-…




California Academy of Sciences Color on the Reef exhibit 2015

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/6427211687/in/album-72157652559028013/

Ron’s WordPress shortlink:  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-iz

Australian Museum  australianmuseum.net.au/blacksaddle-toby-canthigaster-val…

Encyclopedia of life  eol.org/pages/225023/overview


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Perciformes (Perch-likes)
Family: Acanthuridae (Surgeonfishes, tangs, unicornfishes)

Genus/species: Acanthurus pyroferus

Acanthurus pyroferus3161779234_fc0fccc624_b

purplish-black to brown body; curving black band from chin to upper edge of the operculum; orange patch above base of pectoral fin.
Length to 25 cm. (10 in).
Front of juvenile’s body (“face”) is gray; body is white anteriorly and dark posteriorly. Dark-colored caudal fin rounded in juveniles.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Indonesia, Philippines, Micronesia to Polynesia, Japan to New Caledonia and the Great Barrier Reef.  Found in lagoon and seaward reefs from 12–200 ft.


REPRODUCTION: Following external fertilization female scatters eggs over open water substrate: eggs not guarded.


COLOR OF LIFE NOTE: Anti-predator Adaptations, Mimicry.

The common name “mimic” is based on the juvenile coloration; juveniles exhibit three different color patterns mimicking angelfish in the Centropyge genus. Coloration of juveniles mimics these angelfishes until they achieve the largest size attained by the angelfishes; then their appearance transforms to the appropriate adult coloration for A. pyroferus.
Juveniles mimic Centropyge spp. (in Guam, juveniles mimic C. flavissimus see below).

Centropyge flavissima6764335749_c4befc1269_b

Philippine Coral Reef 


California Academy of Sciences Color of Life exhibit 2015

fishbase www.fishbase.se/summary/4742

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/2989062467/in/set-72157608332652056/

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1fA

EOL  http://eol.org/pages/211470/details



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Boidae

Genus/species: Boa constrictor constrictor

Red-tailed Boa IMG_0186

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The background color is cream or brown that is marked with dark “saddle-shaped” bands. The head of a boa constrictor has 3 distinctive stripes. First is a line that runs dorsally from the snout to the back of the head. Second, there is a dark triangle between the snout and the eye. Third, this dark triangle is continued behind the eye, where it slants downward towards the jaw. However, there are many variations on appearance.
Length to 13 feet (3.9 m) as adults. Generally between 2 and 3 meters(6.5 – 10 feet) in length. Weigh 40 to 50 pounds.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Exclusive to the New World (Mexico to Argentina). Boa constrictors are both terrestrial and arboreal. They are found in deserts, wet tropical forests, open savanna, and cultivated fields, and from sea level to moderate elevation having the least need for water of all boas.

DIET IN THE WILD: They ate aglyphous, meaning they do not possess any elongated fangs. Instead, they have rows of long, recurved teeth of about the same size. Teeth are continuously replaced. They are carnivores eating small mammals, including bats, and birds or anything that fits in their mouths. Prey are killed by constriction and swollen whole taking 4-6 days to digest.

REPRODUCTION: Fertilization is internal. The male uses pelvic spurs (hind leg remnants found on either side of the cloacal opening) to aid the use of hemipenes (double penis) for cloacal insertion. Females give birth to live young (ave. 25 in number).

Red-tailed Boa 2775385563_c91e7827ff_o

MORTALITY: Lifespan, 25-30 years.

PREDATORS  Include humans, jaguars, and crocodile 

CONSERVATION : IUCN Red list; not evaluated.

REMARKS: In Mexico and South America, they are valued as destroyers of rodents. B. constrictor constrictor have been “domesticated” for this reason.

Color of Life Note: The Red-Tailed Boa demonstrates concealment with its beige and dark brown markings hiding it in the filtered light coming through tree branches and leaves.


California Academy of Sciences Flooded Amazon Exhibit 2015

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-VA

Ron’s flickr  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608449603666/

U. of Michigan Animal Diversity Web animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/ site/ accounts/ information/ Boa_constrictor.html.

Smithsonian National Zoological Park  http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/ReptilesAmphibians/Facts/FactSheets/Boaconstrictor.cfm

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Muridae
Genus/species: Mus musculus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: it has a dull greyish-brown fur and the tail, which is the same length as the body, It has a
distinctive strong ‘stale’ odor. Length: 6 – 10 cm (2.36 – 4 inches)

IMG_8925 (1)

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Global, origin probably Mediterranean

DIET: House mice are typically active at night eating invertebrates, most human food and more.

IUCN Red List Least Concern (LC)

REMARKS: The House Mouse is partially color blind communicating with squeaks, ultrasonic calls and pheromones.

Predators such as pit vipers, boas and pythons have heat sensing organs which detect infrared wavelengths on their face. This feature that detects heat is used in the dark to detect warm-blooded prey such as mice.

M. musculus is one of the most widely distributed and successful mammals in the world.


Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/19826905554/in/album-72157652559028013/

Ron’s wordpress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1z2

ARKive www.arkive.org/house-mouse/mus-musculus/

California Academy of Sciences Color of Life Exhibit 2015

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