In the first two parts of this series, we went through different pigments that make up the rainbow of living bird colour, and discussed which of them were probably present on the skins and feathers of non-extinct dinosaurs.
In the end, we concluded that almost any colour, from black to white and orange to green, is possible. However, we paid no attention to what kind of colours are ecologically plausible. This article goes through different evolutionary pressures that shape animal colour – camouflage, impressing mates, keeping feathers intact.
Whole books and life’s works have been spent on the subject, so this article will necessarily be only a brief introduction. I will mostly use dinosaurs (both non-avian and living) as examples, but much of this also applies to other groups of extinct animals. Continue reading