The Color Of Blood: Here Are Nature's Reddest Reds (Photos)


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Red-feathered birds get their unique coloring from a diet of certain seeds, leaves and fruit that contain organic yellow pigments, known as carotenoids. Once they eat these yellow pigments, an enzyme in the birds catalyzes a reaction that converts them into red ketocarotenoids — that is, red pigments.

Red and yellow birds have this enzyme in their eyes, which helps them see color. But in red birds, this enzyme is also active in their skin, feathers and liver, the researchers found.

The Color of Blood: Here Are Nature's Reddest Reds (Photos)
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