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Living Rainbows

by Ellen Lambeth

Nature is filled with color. Sometimes you can find all or most of a rainbow's colors in a single creature, such as the lorikeet in the small box (above left) or the macaw above. The tropical parrot may be called a scarlet macaw, but look closely at its flashy feathers. They include much more than scarlet (a bright shade of red). In fact, they seem to mimic a whole rainbow.

When threatened, a red-eyed treefrog flashes the "loud" colors you see in the top left photo. That can startle a predator long enough for the tiny frog to make a getaway. At rest, the frog tucks in its legs and closes its eyes. That lets it blend in with its leafy-green background.

The bullethead parrotfish (above) looks as if it's wrapped in a swirling pastel rainbow! Like the birds they're named for, parrotfish are bright and colorful. They also have parrot-like beaks.

Rainbow-colored creatures show up even under the sea! The lion's mane jellyfish at top right drifts through the water, with its stinging tentacles trailing behind. Large adult lion's manes like this one are more vividly colored than small ones.

Not only is the peacock mantis shrimp colorful, but so are its eggs! The one above right is guarding its bright brood with a watchful, purple-eyed gaze.

Do any rainbow animals live near you? Go out and see. Or just look for each rainbow color, one by one, anywhere in nature.


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