In a valiant attempt to produce a Valentines Day feature on a subject they haven’t already covered, Smithsonian introduces us to animals that are naturally pink. Silly Smithsonian, we don’t need a holiday to enjoy these fascinating creatures! There are pink animals among insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. No flamingos this time, nor humans. Above is a Hopkins’ rose nudibranch.
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Despite looking more like sea anemone or some kind of squishy, spiky stress ball, Hopkins’ rose nudibranch (Okenia rosacea) is actually a sea slug—and please don’t give it a squeeze. Aptly named, this North America-based, one-inch-long sea critter is as impossibly pink, save for its white-tipped papillae. Nudibranches use their colors to warn predators that making a meal out of them would lead to toxic consequences.
Unlike other sea slugs, nudibranchs feast on certain creatures, and the Hopkins’ rose variety gets its beautiful color from its choice prey: tiny pink bryozoans, or moss animals. Bryozoans are colonial animals, meaning they live in colonies where individual organisms connect in units called zooids. These Lego-like animals are no match for the Hopkins’ rose nudibranch, however, which has hook-like teeth made to pierce through bryozoans and gobble up the pink delicacies.
The other animals range from katydids to bats to naked mole rats. See them all at Smithsonian.
(Image credit: Flickr user Robin Agarwal (ANudibranchMom on iNaturalist))