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Mysteries of a golden beetle

The tortoise beetle species, Chelymorpha alternans, is a multicolored mystery. Individuals come in five distinct color morphs, including the common metallic-striped gold form, a brick-red version and three different black and red patterns. They coexist in different proportions in Panama's tropical forests, and no one knows why this species sports such a variety of paint jobs. Human skin color differences have to do with the extreme environments where different populations evolved. Racial groups that evolved under searing sun still have genes for melanin, a natural sunscreen, whereas peoples that evolved in colder, darker places on the planet don't make as much melanin, leading to lighter skin.

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