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This actually occurred in a dream last night, but I'm interested in what could come out of this. I'm not experienced with writing stories and have only read some Worldbuilding posts, so excuse me if this isn't the best! I'll give a brief introduction on what happened, but the scenario does not really lead on to anything about the black color of the animals.

In my world, humans stranded on an island find themselves in several dangerous encounters with animals. The first encounter occurs when one human is attempting to make contact with an elephant calf, but the calf is spooked when another human verbally warns his friend. In response to the alarmed calf, the cow elephant charges at the human, who barely manages to escape.

However, the situation does not end there - a panther has also responded to the calf's cry, but encounters the humans in a cave the panther is using as a shortcut to a cliffside. The panther attacks one of the humans, knocking them from the cliff and killing them.

...and so on.

TL;DR Later, the humans come to the realization that all of the animals they've encountered have black fur or skin.

  • In my dream, it was daylight during both attacks. Although possible, it did not appear that the animals utilized the color for nighttime camouflage.
  • I was never aware of the temperature of the island, but the foliage was green and a beach led on that it was not very cold.
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    $\begingroup$ Excellent question. Well written and, unusually for a first question contains enough information to get an answer. I think you wil be a good asset for Worldbuilding. $\endgroup$ – Bellerophon Jul 5 '16 at 21:21
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Is the island volcanic? If so the sand and rocks could conceivably be black in colour giving the animals a camouflage advantage if they are black. Alternatively the island could be close to a polar region and the animals only operate over the winter in near constant darkness. Alternatively there is some form of toxin emitting a glow on a wavelength other than visible light. The animals evolved special vision to see the toxin sacrificing colour vision in the process making black the only appropriate colour so that the animals can see there group/mate easily.

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    $\begingroup$ Panthers near the arctic? Otherwise good answer. +1 $\endgroup$ – Aarthew III Jul 5 '16 at 21:06
  • $\begingroup$ Black snow leopard mistaken for a panther? That just leaves elephants. $\endgroup$ – Bellerophon Jul 5 '16 at 21:11
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    $\begingroup$ Sounds legit. Hmm... The elephants are always muddy? ;) $\endgroup$ – Aarthew III Jul 5 '16 at 22:16
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Unbeknownst to the humans who are recently stranded on the island, people have been to the island before. This place was used as a secret facility for animal testing. To differentiate the lab animals from other animals they altered their genes so that all the animals have black fur/skin in regular light, but glow an eerie green when exposed to a black light. These modifications give the animals no benefits, but it was useful for the scientists who created them.

What makes black panthers black While this link only explains for large cats, I'm sure the same thing can be done for any animal

Making animals glow is something researchers already do

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There are many different reasons for black skin/fur.

  • They think the darkness is their ally...

You're creatures don't necessarily have to use this only at night. You're jungle can get pretty dark.

  • @Bellephon s dark dirt idea.

If the ground and landscape are black we can camouflage.

  • Flamingoification

Basically they eat minerals/creatures that cause them to look black. Similar to flamingos.

  • they're stuck with it

All animals on the island have always had this color skin. An albino/other colored panther is just strange and unlikely to find a mate. The resulting panthers are either black or have not passed on the genes.

  • Hunting

I don't know if you have any human influence. If you do you can have humans especially target colored animals for their exotically colored fur.

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    $\begingroup$ Or maybe the black ones are cursed! $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Jul 5 '16 at 23:05
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For some species on the island, there could be no benefit at all. The black fur could be an accident due to genetic drift - basically random chance as to who colonised the island or who survived. For instance on Princess Royal Island many of the grey wolves are black, and 10% of the black bears are white! This is because they are an isolated population, stuck on an island.

Alternatively... disease resistance. In some insects, lots of melanin (black pigment) is associated with disease resistance. Perhaps there is some disease which affects mammals and their melanin offers the same kind of biochemical resistance. Of course, if it affects things as diverse as a panther and an elephant, then humans can probably catch it too. So your visitors to the island may die or survive depending on their skin colour, or how much melanin they have in various internal organs. (This is a bit hand-wavey, because mammals have a much better immune system than insects, so melanin may be a drop in the ocean compared to what their regular defences can do).

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  • $\begingroup$ The disease could target melanin cells as part of it causing them to go into overdrive. Overtime this means the humans skin and hair will darken to black. $\endgroup$ – Bellerophon Jul 7 '16 at 7:47

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