Why are so many desert creatures pale?« Back to Questions List

A desert is a sandy area which supports little life playing host to a variety of flora and fauna. Camels, lizards, foxes, snakes, hawks, ground squirrels, bats, owls and a host of other creatures live there. While some are active towards midday, others are active only till the sun rise. During the day, they start to hide in their burrows and re emerge after some time due to scorching heat.

Not all deserts reach extremes but they do become hotter than other humid regions at the same latitude. Most of the animals and reptiles living in the desert are noticeably light in color when compared to their relatives living elsewhere. This pale coloration is due to the extreme climatic conditions prevailing in the desert. The pale tone is a part of a desert animal’s cooling system. Light colors can radiate heat much more quickly compared to dark colors. While dark colors absorb much heat, light ones reflect most of them absorbing only to some extent.


Light colors can also serve as camouflage, making the animals more difficult to be seen against the pale, dry desert floor. A few animals especially the lizards have such finely tuned temperature-control systems that they actually change color as the day progresses. They are dark in the morning, gradually turn pale by midday when the sun is blazing and then darken again in the evening. Thus by changes in behavior many species maintain somewhat constant temperature throughout the day.


5 Great ideas:Inventions and discoveries of recent origin

5 Great ideas:Inventions and discoveries of great impact