Jun 2

Summer may be just around the corner for those of us that live in the northern hemisphere, but if the weather where you are is still cloudy and dull then fear not, because ARKive is here to brighten your day with our countdown of the top ten most colourful species….

Shake a tail feather

Military macaw photo

Macaws are among the most colourful of all the parrots, so choosing just one was very tricky indeed. After much deliberation, I decided that boasting almost all of the colours of the rainbow was enough to secure the beautiful military macaw a spot in our top ten.

A primary coloured primate

Mandrill photo

While mammals aren’t traditionally thought of as a particularly colourful group, the mandrill is definitely an exception. With its red nosed framed by blue flanges, a striking yellow beard and a spectacular blue tinge to its otherwise olive green fur, the male mandrill would certainly stand out in a crowd.

A very colourful cephalopod

Giant cuttlefish photo

Thanks to their ability to rapidly change colour, cuttlefish are sometimes referred to as the chameleons of the sea. The giant cuttlefish uses this adaptation to communicate with other members of its species – stylish and practical!

A resplendent reptile

Broadley's flat lizard photo

Perhaps in a tribute to ARKive’s colour scheme, the male Broadley’s flat lizard impresses the ladies with his fetching orange and blue colouration, complete with yellow forelimbs. Unfortunately for him, this vibrant outfit often catches the eye of predators too.

Underwater wonders

Clown anemonefish photo

Of all the colorful fish that inhabit coral reefs, my favourite is the clown anemonefish. But while this fish is clearly a contender for the colourful crown, the anemone it inhabits in this photo could give it a run for its money!

No need for embarrassment

Bald-headed uakari photo

If there was an award for the brightest face in the animal kingdom, it would undoubtedly go to the bald-headed uakari. But this South American primate has nothing to be embarrassed about; a bright red face is a symbol of health for this species.

Who said frogs have to be green?

Dyeing poison frog photo

In the amphibian world, bright colouration often acts as a warning to potential predators that this particular species is poisonous. By the looks of these blue beauties, I am guessing that the dyeing poison frog wouldn’t make a very appetising meal!

A spectacular skeleton

Lace coral photo

The ornate lace corals are renowned for their impressive hues. The colour is deposited within the limestone skeleton and remains even after the animal tissue is gone, unlike reef-building corals in which the colour is only found in living tissue.

Funky flowers

Geissorhiza radians photo

Flowering plants are notoriously flamboyant, so picking just one colourful species was near impossible. In the end I decided that this beautiful South African species, Geissorhiza radians, was worthy of a place in our countdown.

The most colourful of chameleons

Panther chameleon photo

Considered to exhibit some of the most spectacular colour variations of all the chameleons, the vibrant panther chameleon was a sure bet for the number one spot in our countdown. Populations from different locations within Madagascar each have a particular colouration and patterning.

Did your favourite colourful creature make our countdown? Can you find a more spectacular species on ARKive? Get in touch and let us know!

Claire Lewis, ARKive Media Researcher

  • Terri (June 3rd, 2011 at 8:26 pm):

    Those South African flowers gives me an idea for a skirt pattern… Nature is beautiful!

  • Lea en Judith (June 9th, 2011 at 6:09 am):

    Beautiful pictures, we are looking for these, wowww magnificant ! greetings from Holland, Lea and Judith