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Extinct pink-headed duck derived its unique color from carotenoids


PhysOrg

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The exotic Pink-headed Duck (Rhodonessa caryophyllacea), whose rose-colored plumage set it apart from any other species of waterfowl, was last seen in the wild in India in 1949. Scientists never discovered what pigment was responsible for its unique and vivid coloration—until now. A forthcoming study in The Auk: Ornithological Advances confirms that carotenoids, pigments that provide the bright colors of birds such as cardinals and flamingos but are much rarer among gamebirds, were responsible for the namesake trait of the extinct Pink-headed Duck.

 

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