13.4.10

STRANGE
COLOURS

A horse with the markings of a
Dalmatiam dog has been
discovered running
wild in Devon.

Born to
a chocolate brown mare he is a British
spotted pony whose father shares
the same unusual colouring.

Perhaps rather predictably named Spotty,
he was born just over a week ago at Wembury
Point, near Plymouth although his family
usually grazes on Dartmoor.

The markings were a natural camouflage for
ponies roaming the heaths and forests of
ancient Britain and are included in
several Stone Age paintings and on
ancient manuscripts.

During Roman times the horses were presented
to important officers as a sign of their
power. Around 170 are born
in Britain every year.

Staying on the subject of strangely coloured
animals an "astonishing" black penguin
has been photographed by
wildlife enthusiasts.

The penguin, believed to be suffering from a
condition known as melanism, was spotted on
Fortuna Bay, a sub-Antarctic island of South
Georgia, about 860 miles off the Falklands.

Andrew Evans, who was on the island to observe
wildlife took this picture (above) of the
penguin, one of several thousand.

“Seeing him waddle across South Georgia's black
sand beach revealed no different behaviour than
that of his fellow penguins. In fact, he
seemed to mix well,” he wrote on a
National Geographic blog.

“Regarding feeding and mating behaviour
there is no real way to tell, but I do know
that we were all fascinated by his presence
and wished him the best for the
coming winter season.”

Biology experts say that because black penguins
are particularly rare there is very little research
discussing the subject. Melanism is however
common on other animal species such as
squirrels. It is estimated that about one
in every 250,000 penguins shows
evidence of the condition.


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