The colors of animal integuments (e.g. skin, feathers, hair) are produced by a variety of pigment molecules, nanostructures, or a combination of both.
Although clearly less colorful than other vertebrates, mammals nevertheless have a diverse array of colors and color patterns. However, we still do not fully understand the mechanisms of hair color; are all these colors based on varying amounts of variants of melanin?, how did mammals reach this diversity over evolutionary time? What is the effect of the environment on pelage coloration? In this research the goal is to investigate the diversity in morphology of hair and skin melanosomes (melanin-containing organelles) and its association with the production of color. I will test hypotheses on color, hair, and melanin evolution using both extant and fossil data.