From metallic mirrored beetles to stately senior simians, the serene beauty of silver animals reflects their rank as some of nature’s most exquisite creatures. Though gold may be more flashy, silver animals are no second bananas and take a back seat to nobody. Best of all, their ardent argent adornment never tarnishes no matter what the weather.
(images via: University of Idaho, Wanderin’ Weeta’ and PSMicrographs)
Silverfish (Lespisma sacchrina) are wingless insects that can grow up to 3/4″ (about 2cm) in length. They’re soft-bodied creatures that move with a sinuous, fish-like motion – the origin of their most common colloquial name. Silverfish appear silvery due to their many ridged overlapping scales that reflect light. The scales are easily dislodged which makes it seem like these common household pests are “dusted” with silver.
(images via: Associated Newspapers Ltd.)
Glistening metallic beetles living in Costa Rica’s rainforests have tantalized and delighted those who’ve spied them over the centuries. Indeed, these beetles (Chrysina limbata) and their golden relatives (Chrysina aurigans) are the most metallic-looking of any animal. Their secret lies in the chitinous wing covers that cover most of their upper bodies. Up to 70 thin, semi-transparent layers of chitin reflect and amplify light without the need for any actual metal.
(images via: Shadowness, Jeremy Early and AdamBettley/DeviantART)
The most familiar metallic-bodied flies are so-called Blow-Flies and Bottle Flies of the family Calliphoridae, the latter often displaying reflective blue or green bodies. Some species of flies emerge from their pupal stage unpigmented, however, and their shiny exoskeletons therefore appear to have a silvery sheen. Macro photographs of these newly emergent flies can remind viewers of futuristic cyborg robots rather than ordinary insects.
(images via: Arachnoboards and Euan The Potter)
The ominously large silver spider at the top of the composite image above belongs to the genus Cyphonisia and is known colloquially as the Silver Trapdoor Spider – definitely something one doesn’t want to drop in on! The smaller and more silvery spiders above are known as Dewdrop Spiders. These small, jewel-like spiders of the genus Argyrodes don’t construct webs of their own, preferring to lurk in and around the webs of larger garden spiders where their shining bodies remind onlookers of droplets of morning dew.
(images via: 123RF and Underwater Photography Guide)
One of the wonders of the ocean is a massive school made up of hundreds – even thousands – of sleek, silvery fish. Congregating together as a representation of the theory of “safety in numbers”, schools of fish protect their species as a whole while providing predators with easy pickings at the same time. As for their silver scales, a huge number of fish species adopt this method of distracting camouflage that has the added benefit of making their bodies smoother, allowing for faster movement.
(images via: James Gunter Studio)
The amazing silver frogs captured photographically above by James Gunter live in small pools situated within blisteringly hot and dry desert environments. It may be that these frogs have evolved semi-transparent reflective skin in order to deflect the sun’s more damaging visible and ultraviolet rays. Frogs and other amphibians respire partially through their skin and dehydration is always an issue – in the desert, keeping moist would be paramount.
(images via: A Snail’s Eye View and Wildherps)
Leapin’ lizards! Well, even stationary lizards can be silver, at least certain parts thereof. And in certain parts of Australia, several species of Skinks exhibit at least some degree of silvery scaliness. As is the usual case with “metallic animals”, no actual metal is required to effect a reflective appearance. Rather, these creatures have evolved metallic shininess as a survival strategy we just happen to think looks pretty.
(images via: SnakeBuddies and Baird’s Rat Snakes)
Snakes and lizards are both reptiles and both feature oft-colorful scales adorning their bodies. Some species of snakes have scales so shiny they appear to be reflective under the right lighting conditions. Such silvery snakes aren’t as exotic as one might think: the relatively common Rat Snakes above gleam with a soft silver glow that belies their humble origins.
(images via: Nebulous Mooch, Pilot Peak and Dog Star Daily)
The Silver Fox is a melanistic variation of the more common Red Fox – approximately 8 percent of wild foxes in Canada display glossy, silvery fur that on close inspection is actually made up of dark brown, gray and white hairs. Silver Foxes are the subjects of an ongoing experiment in fox domestication instigated by Russian scientist Dmitry Belyaev in 1959. Belyaev bred Silver Foxes for tameness over many generations and observed the foxes gradually becoming more dog-like in both their behavior and their appearance. One result of the experiment was that the selectively bred Silver Foxes lost their “silver” fur in favor of multicolored coats more commonly seen on domesticated dogs, cats, cows and pigs.
(images via: Enjoy Darwin, Mangelsen and DPChallenge)
Going gray… not just for people anymore! It’s not known why aged male gorillas go gray on their backs and hindquarters; it’s also not clear if other gorillas note the distinctive look of such “silverbacks” and adjust their behavior accordingly. Suffice to say that in gorilla society, as it were, being a silverback means you’ve made it to the peak of power and influence. Reaching a state of silveriness is common to both mountain Gorillas and their Lowland cousins. Unlike humans, curiously, only male gorillas go gray in the manner.
(image via: Glamorous Gamer Girls)
Humans may be animals but there’s nothing more exotic than changing one’s appearance with silver or other metallic body paint and makeup. That’s because unlike our animal relatives, humans haven’t evolved body parts that are sufficiently reflective to be considered silvery. Mirror, mirror, on my skin, who’s the fairest, me or my kin?