Colour: it is a method of finding a mate, a cue that ᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀ is near, a vital clue in the search for food. Get ready to marvel at some of the snazziest animals we’ve ever seen!
1. Gouldian finch (Erythrura gouldiae)
Adult male Gouldian finches are unmistakable, squeezing bright blue, green, yellow and purple onto their small bodies.
They are one of Australia’s most colourful birds, finishing their look with blue tails. Their face colour varies.
Gouldian finches live in open, tropical woodland, and nest in tree hollows.
The species was classified as enᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀed in Queensland in 1992 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and still faces ᴛʜʀᴇᴀᴛs to its habitat from livestock grazing and fire management strategies.
After conservation efforts, numbers are rising, although there are still fewer than 2,500 mature birds in the wild.
2. Peacock spider (Maratus volans)
Glittering blues, greens, oranges and yellows shine from the small body of the peacock spider.
Dozens of species of peacock spider are known, and it is likely that there are still more to be found.
The bright colours are part of their strategy to impress potential mates. Males flash their colourful bodies and perform an elaborate dance in the hope of winning a female, strutting back and forth and waving their legs.
It is a bold undertaking that can go ʜᴏʀʀɪʙʟy wrong: if the females remain unimpressed, they eat their potential suitor.
3. Mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx)
Bright scarlet snouts coupled with blue and white cheeks make the mandrill a contender for the most colourful mammal around.
The monkeys, native to equatorial Africa, match their behinds to their faces, with vivid blue, red and violet skin on their rear end as well.
The look is completed with a yellow beard, and the rest of the body is brown.
Mandrills live in groups containing several females and young, led by a dominant male. These groups can come together to form hordes, with hundreds of individuals.
Sexual selection is the cause of the mandrill’s colourful outfit: the most successful males are the biggest and most colourful of the pack.
The tones are produced by testosterone, and the males become more colourful as they age, with the highest ranking in the group bearing the brightest faces.
4. Peacock mantis shrimp (Odontodactylus scyllarus)
One of the most impressive creatures in the ocean, every centimetre of the peacock mantis shrimp radiates colour.
Sporting green, blue, pink and yellow, the mantis shrimp hides its startling colour in rocky crevices under tropical oceans.
A relative of lobsters, this crustacean is able to see a far wider range of colours than humans can.
Mantis shrimps can detect UV light, and have 16 photoreceptors, compared to the three colour-detecting receptors humans have: green, blue and red. Our three photoreceptors reveal a rainbow to us – but we can’t begin to imagine the world of colour that mantis shrimps live in.
5. Red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas)
While the tree frog sleeps during the day, it is able to hide its markings and red eyes.
Appearing mostly green, it blends in with the leaves of its rainforest home.
When disturbed from sleep, the tree frog flashes its bulging red eyes, startling any predators that were about to eat it.
Adults are neon green, with white bellies, and blue upper limbs with cream or yellow stripes on their sides. They complete the look with orange feet.
6. California Red-Sided Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis infernalis)
The California red-sided garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis infernalis) is a subspecies of the common garter snake. This slender subspecies of natricine snake is indigenous to North America and is one of three recognized subspecies of Thamnophis sirtalis found in California.
Most California red-sided garter snakes have yellow or blue stripes over a primarily red body, with a row of black spots or blotches appearing in a stripe like pattern. Their average total length is about 55 cm (22 in), with a maximum total length of about 100 cm (39 in).
7. Blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena lunulata)
As well as being one of the most brightly coloured creatures in the sea, this tiny octopus is also one of the most ᴅᴇᴀᴅly species in the world.
Their ᴠᴇɴᴏᴍ lurks in their saliva, and it is potent enough to ᴋɪʟʟ an adult human. Its bright blue rings flash a ᴡᴀʀɴing when a predator approaches.
Just 12 to 20 centimetres long, they spend most of their time hiding inside crevices in the rock pools and coral reefs of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
8. Wattle-cup caterpillar (Calcarifera ordinata)
They might look like they are enveloped in sweet wrappers, but potential predators ignore this colourful ᴡᴀʀɴing at their peril.
With acid yellow bodies covered in protruding spikes, called tubercles, the caterpillar can deliver a ᴘᴜɴᴄᴛᴜʀᴇ three times as ᴘᴀɪɴful as a bee sting.
Native to Australia, they only wear their colourful outfits for a few weeks. After pupating, the caterpillar transforms into a dull brown moth.
9. Mandarin fish (Synchiropus splendidus)
Dominated by blue with orange, red or yellow wavy lines, the Mandarin fish is native to the Pacific Ocean.
Its blue colour is caused by chromatophores, light-reflecting cells that also contain pigments.
Chromatophores are found in a wide range of amphibians, fishes, reptiles, crustaceans and cephalopods.
But the Mandarin fish is one of just two species in the animal kingdom where blue colouration is known to be caused in this way. The other one is a closely related species, Synchiropus picturatus.