August 30, 2010

Very strange looking Thompson’s gazelle.

Very strange - Africa Geographic

Mutation vs fake

Sometimes you have to look at all the facts.These images appear to show a Thompson’s gazelle that has been bred by crossing a gazelle with a goat *or* something.

Africa Geographic looked carefully at the images, and there are no signs of any alterations that they could see, and there is nothing to suggest that the image has been played with in any way.

Additionally, Paolo Torchio, who took the photo, is a well known and well respected photographer, so we can only conclude that this is simply a strange mutation *or* some sort.

Sometimes nature does create oddities. Two headed snakes, while very unusual, are occasionally seen, and there are well documented cases of animals with extra legs, heads and eyes and other unusual mutations. They are more common where there are some environmental causes, often caused by humans, such as mercury poisoning. Mr Torchio has had one of those rare moments that every photographer would love, a slice of luck.

Mutations and oddities

The most well know ”oddities’ in the animal world are unusual, *or* lack of, colour displayed by some animals. Often classed as Albinos, this can occur across a wide range of species, though it is often not albinism but leucism.

Leucism (also known as Leukism) is a very unusual condition whereby the pigmentation cells in an animal *or* bird fail to develop properly. This can result in unusual white patches appearing on the animal, and, more rarely, completely white creatures.

Albinism is a different condition. The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is that in albinism the eyes are usually pink *or* red, and albinism affects the entire animal, not just patches. This occasionaly causes very excited biologists to think they have discovered a new species, when in fact leucism is the cause of the unusual markings they have seen.


Birds can show this condition in one of two ways: either there is an excess of yellow in the plumage *or* the yellow replaces another colour (in this instance the red). The condition has been reported in a number of species, including other species of woodpecker (in North America), and in many instances the colour replaced is red.

Photo: Paolo Torchio.
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