The peacock’s white feathers are caused by a genetic mutation. The mutation is called leucism. (AP)

The peacock’s white feathers are caused by a genetic mutation. The mutation is called leucism. (AP)

A two-day-old white lion cub plays with its mother, Sumba, at Belgrade Zoo in Serbia. (AP)

A two-day-old white lion cub plays with its mother, Sumba, at Belgrade Zoo in Serbia. (AP)

Poison dart frogs have a mutation that gave their skin black blobs and stripes. (AP)

Poison dart frogs have a mutation that gave their skin black blobs and stripes. (AP)

A mutation causes black jaguars to produce more melanin than spotted jaguars.

A mutation causes black jaguars to produce more melanin than spotted jaguars.

Different Is Good

Posted: January 1, 2021

A white lion lounges in the sunlight. A white peacock spreads its radiant feathers. Lesson? This guy may be the last white giraffe. But he’s not the only critter affected by leucism, the genetic anomaly that changes his color.

You could also call a genetic anomaly a mutation. Mutation comes from the Latin word for change. A mutation is a change in a creature’s genes. (Genes are the code that determines a creature’s design. Genes decide how each living thing will look and function.) Even a tiny change in this gene “recipe” can make a big difference for a living thing. Sometimes it makes a big shift for a whole species. Some mutations affect only one individual. But others pass from a creature to its offspring, and then to that creature’s offspring, and so forth.

Is mutation good? It can be. Poison dart frogs developed a genetic mutation. The change gave their bright skin black blobs and stripes. The new patterns warn predators: Don’t take a bite! That benefits frogs and their predators.

A mutation in black jaguars causes them to produce more melanin (dark pigment) than spotted jaguars. Many species have similar mutations. Types of lizards, moths, beetles, butterflies, snakes, and birds produce extra melanin too. These mutations can help protect from the Sun’s ultraviolet rays. They can keep animals warmer in cold climates. The melanin also acts as camouflage, hiding animals from creatures hunting them.

In general, changed genes lead to good diversity. The more genetic differences within a species, the stronger the species becomes. God’s creative power amazes us. The diversity in the world and even within species shows off the infinite creativity of His mind. He loves variety!