Astaxanthin in the American Flamingo


THE flamingo, Phoenicopterus ruber, derives from its dietary carotenoids the conspicuous rich pink to red colours of its feathers, tarsal and pedal skin and lower bill-mandible. Captive flamingos gradually lose their rich pigmentation unless appropriate dietary measures are taken. The presumptive role of crustacean carotenoids in supplying pigmentation to the birds in Nature is given some support by observations in zoos1 and by Manunta's2 reported recovery of an astacene-like carotenoid from the fat of a flamingo.


  1. 1

    Fox, D. L., “Animal Biochromes” (Camb. Univ. Press, 1953).

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  2. 2

    Manunta, C., Helv. chim. Acta, 22, 1511 (1939).

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FOX, D. Astaxanthin in the American Flamingo. Nature 175, 942–943 (1955).

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