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Cute But Challenged: The Difficult Life Of An Albino Animal

Albino animals look cute, but the lack of melanin in their bodies causes a fair amount of hardship for these pigment-challenged creatures. The complex polymer determines skin and hair color, and can impact vision and its development. This means that in addition to being far easier to spot by potential predators and prey, albino animals struggle with basic survival skills. Here are some of the common plights of albino animals, and other facts about their unique lives:

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Albino Animals Reindeer

About 1 in 10,000 animals are born with albinism. Image Source: Imgur

Albino Animals Peacock

The term derives from the Latin word Albus, meaning “white”. Image Source: Flickr/Brian Burger

Albino Animals Donkey

To have albinism, an organism must inherit one or more defective genes that makes it impossible to produce normal amounts of melanin, a pigment that colors skin and hair. Image Source: Flickr/Roberto Cossu

Albino Animals Porcupine

Animals lacking this pigment can either be pure or partial albinos, depending on how defective their inherited genes are. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Albino Animals Snake

In snakes, partial albinism is more common than full albinism. Image Source: Pixabay

Albino Animals Turtle

Albino turtles tend to have yellowish shells and pink eyes. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Albino Animals Ferret

In addition to the aesthetic effects albinism has on animals, it also affects their physical development. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Albino Animals Kitten

The absence of melanin in the eyes results in abnormal development, which often means that those wth albinism struggle with depth perception. Image Source: Pixabay

Albino Animals Squirrel

Some animals aren't as negatively physically impacted by albinism, like the squirrel. Its retina differs from all other mammals, so albinism affects their eyesight less than normal. Image Source: Flickr/Peter Trimming

Albino Animals Catfish

Fish, like this catfish, aren't as affected, either. They don’t have melanin in their inner ear, meaning that their hearing is less likely to be affected by albinism than in mammals. Image Source: Wikipedia

Albino Animals Alligator

Many albinos classified as predators die from starvation because they lack their natural color camouflage. Would-be prey can easily see them coming, and therefore have time to plot an escape. Image Source: Wikipedia

Albino Animals Deer

Likewise, animals that are more likely to be prey lack the natural coloring that helps them hide from predators, so they are more apt to be seen and killed. Image Source: Flickr/Paolo Brandao

Albino Animals Rat

The condition also has social effects, which is problematic when it comes time to mate. Many albino animals are outcast by their peers. Image Source: Pixabay

albino animals gorilla

As such, numerous albino animals live in captivity. Snowflake, featured above, is the only documented gorilla with albinism. He was born in the wild, but captured and kept at the Barcelona Zoo. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Albino Animals Wallaby

This is Betty, the resident albino wallaby at the Columbus Zoo, in Powell, Ohio. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Albino Animals Penguin

The only known albino penguin, Snowdrop, was born in 2002 at England’s Bristol Zoo. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Albino Animals Koala

There is only one documented albino koala, and his name is Onya-Birri. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Albino Animals Water Buffalo

Some cultures worship albino animals, and believe that they are good luck charms. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons\

Albino Animals Kangaroo

Native American tribes harbored significant reverence for albino animals, for instance. Whiteness was not seen as a symbol of "purity" as in Western cultures, but wisdom. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Albino Animals Mice

Despite differences, many of these tribes abided by one common principle: the albino animal is not to be killed. Image Source: Wikipedia

Albino Animals Cow

If the albino animal were killed, its killer would be cursed. The underlying thinking was that, as its coloring makes it an easier mark, it is unfair game for the hunter. Image Source: Pixabay

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Enjoyed these? Check out the animal kingdom’s most fascinatingly bizarre color mutations, or witness 27 astounding pictures of animal camouflage in action.

The Most Important Scientific Discoveries Of 2015

Science has made some huge advances in 2015 — how many of these discoveries have you heard about?

Scientific Discoveries 2015 Science Header

Image Source: Flickr

From bionic eyes to 3D-printed implantable bones, science has made some incredible progress this year. Here are some highlights of the year in science in case you were too busy to keep up:

1. Chinese scientists first to genetically modify human embryos.

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History In The Making: SpaceX Just Completed The First Step Towards Colonizing Mars In Our Lifetime

NASA has been dealing with continued assaults on its budget for decades. With increased tightening of those purse strings (just this year, another $300 million were cut from its Earth science program alone, largely as a deliberate snub to its climate change investigations), the field of space exploration has opened up to private companies. Last night, one of those companies achieved a miracle.

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Your World This Week, Dec. 20 – 26

This week in tech: Honest-to-goodness virtual reality is already here–and there’s a lot more on the way, Elon Musk becomes the first to launch a reusable rocket into space, the FDA approves a syringe that can save your life after a shooting, and Amazon found a hotbed for illicit gun sales.

The First Reusable Rocket To Launch Into Space

SpaceX Rocket

Image Source: SpaceX

Two titans of industry each with a history of controversial, revolutionary projects and an extraordinary cult of personality. One company called SpaceX, the other called Blue Origin. Both now trying to one-up each other and be the first to launch a reusable rocket–with names like Dragon V2 and Falcon 9–into space.

Even though this all sounds like something out of a James Bond movie, it’s hard to overstate how important reusable rockets could be. There’s a reason Elon Musk‘s SpaceX and the Jeff Bezos-backed Blue Origin have both been feverishly trying to make reusable rockets a reality.

And on Monday December 21–after pushing the launch back 24 hours in order to take advantage of better conditions–SpaceX is set to make it happen. The Falcon 9 rocket should surpass the achievements of the one launched by Blue Origin in November, which was recovered after landing and is then reusable, but didn’t quite make it high enough to actually orbit in space.

Watch the Falcon 9 begin its journey from Cape Canaveral, Florida to outer space at the official SpaceX live stream.

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