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How do leopards get their spots?
Question Date: 2013-11-19
Answer 1:

This is a great question with a complicated answer. Let’s start by thinking about the color of your hair. It is probably just one color or a mix of different shades of the same color. The color comes from a pigment called melanin. It’s the same pigment that gives us our skin color. The amount of this pigment determines how dark our skin or hair are. Different colors, like red hair color, are from a slightly different recipes.

The recipe for making melanin is in the genes in every one of your cells, even though most of your cells never use it. It has been a few decades since I was in 6th grade, so some of my hair has no melanin in it. My cells still have the recipe, they just don’t make as much anymore.

Let’s get back to the leopard. All of its cells have the recipes for making all of the different colors in its coat. In order to make spots, the processes for making the pigments have to be “switched on.” The switches for genes don’t look anything like light switches, but the idea is the same. The tricky part is that the switches in different cells have to be turned on in very specific patterns to get the beautiful spots on a leopard. I don’t think anyone has figured out exactly how that is controlled. If you want to study things like that, you may want to become a geneticist or developmental biologist.

Why do spots help a leopard? Do they make it hide better or make it stand out? Thanks for asking,

Answer 2:

You can read more on a similar answers that we already have on our database click here to read

Answer 3:

Leopards get their spots in the same way that humans have freckles - they express the pigment melanin in the fur that makes the spots.

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