Evolutionary Genetics of Coloration in Primates and Other Vertebrates

Part of the Primatology Monographs book series (PrimMono)


Coloration is a key trait in nearly all vertebrates and is subject to a large variety of selective pressures, from natural selection to social and sexual selection. It is emerging as a highly tractable trait for studying the genetic basis of adaptation and for building integrated explanations of evolution at genetic, developmental, physiological, and adaptive levels. Examples where the molecular details of colour evolution have been identified have been uncovered across a range of vertebrate clades, with mammals, birds, and fish being well represented. Among primates, there has been good progress in identifying loci involved in the recent evolution of pigmentation in human populations. Variation in two key loci, MC1R (melanocortin-1 receptor) and ASIP (agouti signaling protein), can explain coat colour variation among species of lion tamarin (Leontopithecus); but for many nonhuman primates the genetic mechanisms underlying colour evolution remain to be elucidated. Future work will make more use of the rapidly expanding genomic resources.


Colour Variation Coat Colour Lion Tamarin Pigmentation Locus Sexual Dichromatism 



I thank the Leverhulme Trust, NERC, and BBSRC for funding.


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Copyright information

© Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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