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The Colour of Blue

The Colour of Blue
Photo Information
Copyright: Loot Eksteen (loot) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2009-10-09
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Sony Cybershot DSC HX1, Sony G lens 20x Optical zoom, Digital ISO 200
Exposure: f/4.5, 1/500 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Travelogue: Kruger National Park - 2009
Theme(s): Monkeys, Sexy nature, 70-79 Puntos (chapter 2), Mammals of Southern Africa II, A study in Mammalogy (mammals) 1, So Funny, I had to laugh., Kruger National Park 2, CeltickRanger's favorite African animal photos 2, Nature's Oddities [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2010-01-18 17:00
Viewed: 6911
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 78
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Vervet Monkey - Cercopithecus aethiops

The ultimate monkey business!

My next post will be for my 4th anniversary, but I just thought that: "Today, I'd post something with a bit of a difference and a slight twist". I sincerely hope I don't cause offence to some "sensitive" viewers. My intent is definitively not to shock, or to be vulgar, or to offend, but purely to inform and to reveal the natural beauty. After all, it is nature and it is the core essential element that makes this whole world and all its inhabitants tick (or rock) along. The workshop contains material of an even more graphical nature. Warning: Not for the finely tuned or faint hearted.

This little guy with the interesting "turquoise scrotum" was captured while sitting in a thorny tree near the "N'watimhiri waterhole ", on the S21 road, in the Kruger National Park. My biggest concern was for those needle sharp thorns and the "all too casually way" this monkey sat around in the tree. It could be a rather painful experience if one of those 4-inch thorns pierced him where he didn't want to be pricked (no pun intended).

In this modern day and age that we live in, knowledge (or the accessibility of knowledge) seems to be everything. Mankind has studied, investigated, and analysed just about anything possible and we really think we know a lot about every thing. We've got satellites out there in the distant cosmos, we got Nanotechnology that engineers functional systems at the molecular scale however, we still don't even have a bona fide cure for a simple thing such as a flu virus. Yes, we can doctor the symptoms, but we can't really kill the virus. So, when I started to do some research for my notes on this posting, I was utterly amazed at the number of scientific or scholastic studies I found concerning related topics such as:
- Structural colouration of mammalian skin: convergent evolution of Coherently Scattering Dermal Collagen Arrays.
- The Random Scholar: What makes monkey scrotums blue?
- Control of Scrotal Colour in the Vervet Monkey.
- Researchers solve riddle of what makes some mammals have skin that shines a brilliant blue.
- Secondary sexual colouration and CSF 5-HIAA are correlated in Vervet Monkeys.
- Do females pay attention to secondary sexual colouration in Vervet Monkeys?
- Seasonal and Social Correlates of Changes in Hair, Skin, and Scrotal Condition in Vervet Monkeys.
- And so the list goes on and on….

I mean WOW: Don't these learned men have anything better to do than to keep themselves busy with the origins or causes of the turquoise blue colouring of a monkey's privates. Oh, don't give me that disapproving look. Would you dissect monkey scrotums just to see where the colour comes from (chuckle)?

Taxonomic Classification

: Animalia (animals)
PHYLUM: Chordata (animals with a shared body plan having at some stage in their lives: a notochord, a dorsal neural cord, pharyngeal slits & a post anal tail)
SUBPHYLUM: Vertebrata (fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, & mammals)
CLASS: Mamalia (vertebrate animals with sweat glands, hair, 3 middle ear bones, and a neocortex region in the brain)
ORDER: Primates (lemurs, monkeys, and apes, with the last category including humans)
FAMILY: Cercopithecidae (Old World monkeys native to Africa and Asia)
GENUS: Cercopithecus ("green" or "blue" monkeys)
SPECIES: C. aethiops (vervet monkeys)

Control of scrotal colour in the vervet monkey
(Article by: J. S. Price, J. L. Burton, S. Shuster and K. Wolff)

The vervet monkey has a vivid blue scrotum which pales when the animal falls in social rank. Histology and electron microscopy showed dopa-positive melanocytes in the dermis each packed with fully melanised melanosomes. By transmitted light the scrotal skin was brown on a red background: by reflected light the colour was blue. Thus the blue colour is due to Tyndall scattering over a layer of melanin. Variation of scrotal colour was not due to changes in melanocyte number or dispersion of melanosomes. Pallor was induced by injecting fluid, and blueness could be restored by removing fluid. It is concluded that the blue-to-white colour variation is modulated by the degree of dermal hydration.

But there is another way to create structural colour.

Colour enhancement through phase coherence
(Article by: Richard Prum)

Prum and University of Kansas mathematician Rodolfo Torres showed that the blue in mammal skin comes from "coherent scattering". The best-known examples of this process are the iridescent colours of opals, oil slicks, and soap bubbles. When light hits a layer of a certain material, some of it is immediately reflected by the outermost surface. Another portion of the light enters the material and is reflected back when it hits the bottom surface. If a particular wavelength emerges in phase with its partner in reflection, that colour is enhanced; emerging out of phase results in wavelengths canceling each other out, and not the colour.

In skin, the structures that govern this phase shift are collagen fibers about four millionths of an inch in diameter. Because there's no iridescence - the colour doesn't change with the viewing angle - and because earlier research had suggested that these fibers were arrayed in random fashion, like the molecules in air, the blue-sky explanation seemed reasonable. But using an electron microscope and a kind of mathematics called the Fourier transform, it can be showed that the collagen in mandrill and marsupial skin actually possessed "quasi-order." The fibers aren't packed together in as orderly a fashion as the molecules in a crystal, but they are orderly enough to bring the short wavelengths into phase with each other and create a brilliant blue.

Source: "A combination of the links mentioned above".

Post Processing was done with Adobe Photoshop CS2.

sranjan, Art_R, manyee, eng55, iris, Argus, scottevers7, PeterZ, goatman04, albert, anemone, horias, hansh, jaycee, Miss_Piggy, CeltickRanger, tuslaw, jeanpaul, maurydv, anel, pilonm, zulfu, xTauruSx, Heaven, Rehanna, Mamagolo2, roges, mlines, Ingrid1 has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
Animal Behaviouringridshaul 1 02-10 05:43
To yasemin: Hi Sister:)))boreocypriensis 1 01-21 16:20
To manyee: Ha-ha-haloot 1 01-18 20:00
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Critiques [Translate]

Hallo Prof Loot,
Great shot with excellent notes. I am sorry for being crisp & short since its 6.52 AM & I am rushing to the hospital. I could not stop penning down few sentences for you after watching this colorful handsome & was thinking why creator did not use colors for humans ;) (Chuckle). A nice composition with an excellent details, eye contact with subject, POV & sharpness. TFS

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  • Art_R Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 244 W: 20 N: 839] (3892)
  • [2010-01-18 19:15]

Hi Loot , an interesting photo , well captured with sharp detail. I found your notes interesting though admittedly beyond my full understanding :-) , some of your own comments on the subject where also worth a laugh. TFS

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  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2010-01-18 19:42]
  • [+]

Fascinating stuff you have here, Loot.
I can see you really had a ball (no pun intended) doing the research on this one. : )
Amazing details on both the post and the workshop.
Nature sure is full of wonder, and you are doing a great job of sharing some of that wonder with us.
A very "revealing" POV.
It is great how the vivid coloring of the monkey's genitals stand out in the rather monochromatic image.
TFS. : )

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  • eng55 Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1256 W: 42 N: 1976] (5892)
  • [2010-01-18 23:01]

Hi Loot,
Funny capture of this interesting monkey.I'd never seen it before,is it real:)Sharpness,POV,eye contact,composition and details are perfect.Have a nice day!
Thanks for posting..

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  • iris Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 479 W: 60 N: 970] (3088)
  • [2010-01-18 23:30]

Hello Loot,
Extremely interesting documentation here.
This post is a fine bit of evidence that adds to several reasons why a dedicated site as TN is needed to present the vivid ways of nature.
The scholar links adds on to your photo documentation.And the "blue" really stands out with stark contrast to the other dominant colours of the shot.
Well seen and cpatured.

Hi Loot

Excellent image of this blue beauty.
You managed to capture this shot from a great POV and with fine details and a good color to explain the notes.
Not sure everyone will go nuts about it, but I really enjoyed it as a very unusual POV with a note I could learn a lot from.

I must say not many TN's would have had the courage to have posted such a brave capture.

Well done and TFS
Kind Regards

P.S. Maybe this could be the new emblem for the blue bulls?

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  • foozi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2791 W: 0 N: 6696] (25839)
  • [2010-01-19 2:03]

Hi Loot,
this is something beyond my thought. It never crosses my mind that the secret part of this monkey is going to be blue.
You have captured it superbsly. What I learn from this shot is that the creatures and its surroundings are deliberately created and placed in suitable environment. They work with each iother very well. Like this situation, the colours are very harmonious and camouflaging is very perfect.
The texture of the tree bark...and the greyinsh surrounding fits each other very well.
You have presented it is a very lively manner and in a very classical capture.


Hi MF Loot:)

Well spotted, proof that these creatures can climb to everything (chuckle).
I like the way you've presented this that we can see all genitalia clearly:),
the clarity looks brilliant throughout.
Your notes on colouration, as always, great and educative.
TFS and have a great day MF!


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  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2010-01-19 3:31]

Hello Loot,
Apart from the high technical and esthetic qualities, this shot is both amusing and educative.
Educative for me as I never knew that there was a species of monkey with such strikingly coloured genitals! Furthermore I didn't know that the colours were of the reflective type, in principle like those of some species of butterflies and not pigment.
Interesting to note that the colours really come out when the male is in a dominant mood and position.
The amusing aspect is self evident, more amusing than the multi-coloured backsides of certain baboons, which also play a sexual role.
Great stuff Loot!
This is what TN is all about, even if sex is the basis of all life!
Thanks and all the best,

Hi Loot,

Excellent as usual on the photography and notes. I love how the image lacks any real vibrant colors except for the monkey's crotch....Draws your eyes right to it!!!

Hey I say if you got, Flaunt it!


Hello Loot,

This is an excellent capture with great details, pose & setting. Very well taken, composed & presented.

You've heard the expression..."till I was blue in the face...well this Vervet Monkey is saying...till I was blue in the B***s.

Great notes & TFS.


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  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2010-01-19 5:39]

Hello Loot,
Interesting and amusing photo in very beautiful saturated colours. Great sharpness and details. Attractive POV.

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  • Jamesp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
  • [2010-01-19 6:22]

Hi Loot

Nicely 'observed' shot. Very good detail and obliging pose!

Best wishes


Hi Loot,
Interesting capture with fascinating coloured genitals "instrument" I never had the opportunity to notice this, always important to be at the right time at the right place!
Also very interesting to read your note with all attachments
Good stuff and many thanks for sharing it with us

Great shot of this "blou-apie" Somehow the Afrikaans name is a bit more descriptive, I think. You have captured the feature that makes this monkey unique perfectly in vivid colour and sharpness. The pose is also perfect in order to show off his uniqueness.
Well done.

hello Loot
greatpicture with very good details and good sharpness
nice to see this monkey so easely on the tree
beautiful colours spec. bleu and red HA-HA
greeting lou

Hi Loot. super shot.. i love this guy's face while show us his coloured genitalia:) Great one!
Best Regards

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  • horias Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 837 W: 58 N: 2084] (11033)
  • [2010-01-19 11:00]

Wonderful little Vervet Monkey.
Great details and colors,especially in certain parts of the body (ha ha )
Congratulation my friend!

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  • hansh Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 277 W: 1 N: 741] (2762)
  • [2010-01-19 11:00]

Hello Loot.

A very nice capture of this Vervet Monkey.
Very subtile colors and the blue of your title is good to see and gives us the opportunity to fantasise.
Great POV, i like it very much.
Your note is very value and imprives the quality of your picture very much.

Gr. Hans

Hi Loot,
I can't belief - such a blue back, amazing. And this guy was posing for you very well, we can see every little "detail".
Thanks, I like it very much
Sabine - wishnugaruda

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  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2010-01-19 16:10]

Hi Loot,

Of course I had to look at the workshop. Only you would post that but it sure is an amazing part of nature! This Vervet Monkey is beautiful with fine colors, details and textures. The pose is quite unusual. Great shot but I think I am blushing.


Dear Loot
I think if is this little monkey would have known how many times his private parts were to be discussed and looked at, and how many gossip would be spread about him, he surely would have closed his legs and turned his back on you. I am also sure if he were to be told that his genitals were featured on the world wide web, he would have turned blue out of shame all over and not only in the parts that are blue all ready. Now let me get serious about this image………This is a beautiful capture of this monkey in it's natural environment., doing what it does best and that is actually nothing besides eating. This is not just another monkey picture; this is one has lots of character and detail which you brought across beautifully with your camera. Detail like the intense or grim look on this little fellow's face, the penetrating look it gives your camera or maybe he was watching you, the tail that is so well draped onto the tree trunk showing the black tip so beautifully, the silvery tones in the fur and many, many more I can still mention. Thanks for not passing this animal as just another monkey but actually stopping and taking time to photograph it for its beauty. The workshop is also great and the clarity and colours very prominent. Love
ps. As always your detailed note is of high educational value.

hello Loot

what a funny and beautiful photo of this camouflaged monkey
with his environment, camouflaged but not all the parts of his body lol !,
fine POV, appropriate framing, superb focus sharpness and details,

i am amazed by your (and Luciano's) Sony Cybershot DSC HX1 bridge camera image quality,
in may 2009 it was the camera that i wanted to buy but one day i talked
with a semi-pro bird photographer (Nikon D300 300/2.8 and all the kit)
knowing i do in-flight photos he told me that i already have bridge
and compact cameras, now for me it is time to have a DSLR for the kind
of photos i do, and he told me to take my time, to nut hurry the purchase
if i don't have the money, so i am waiting putting money by side
and hope one day i will have a DSLR , TFS


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  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2754 W: 282 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2010-01-20 20:02]

Hello Loot,
Just when you thought you've seen it all, out comes something like this little guy to prove you wrong. What an interesting photo you have posted which exhibits fine detail and (VIVID) colors. I just had to check out the posted sites in your notes and must say, they are very interesting as well.
This is definitely one photo that will be remembered for a long time because of it's uniqueness and interesting subject. It also doesn't hurt to show a little humor at times either, as I'm sure there are many smiles on the faces of a lot of TNers right about now. Great stuff!!

Hi Loot
très belle image, le point de vue est parfait. Etonnant de voir un animal sur des branches si piquantes. La teinte et la netteté sont parfaites.

Merci pour tes commentaires et a bientôt


Hello Loot,
what a fantastic capture of the Vervet Monkey, outstanding sharpness with microscopic details, the colours are simply marvellous, a very pleasant composition with lovely and graceful posture of the monkey in a very beautiful environment, very well done.
Best regards

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  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2010-01-21 4:59]

Hello Loot,
We cannot miss this turquoise color! I must say I'm impressed :-)
Very special picture which you brought back from your trip to Kruger. The shot almost seems surrealistic with the amazing dry vegetation in the surroundings and the serious expression of the Vervet Monkey. An interesting note too.
Thanks and kind regards

Hello Loot,

WOW!!! I never saw such a thing and even never thought that can exist!!! You know, when my scrotum changes colors it is a really bad thing! ;-)

The monochrome colors of the whole picture emphasizes the scrotum colors greatfully. Our eyes come directly to the red/blue thing and the first thing coming in mind is "What it that???".

I really like your composition having the whole monkey within the frame and the not-centalized position of the scrotum.

One question: As I don't know your camera, Is the Sony Cybershot DSC HX1 a bridge? Because with a reflex I thought that the bg should have been more blurred at f/4.5.

Excellent shot Loot and I'm very happy to learn a complete new thing about Nature. I know that I will always be surprised by her!



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  • zulfu Gold Star Critiquer [C: 685 W: 0 N: 2] (43)
  • [2010-01-21 12:31]

Hello Loot, cute and great shot of this climber in a wonderful pose. Great notes.
TFS and G's,

Hello Loot,
Yess:) i search to see the blue:) and i found easily with red:). Very interesting colouration of genitalia that i saw firstly. Your notes on it great and very educative.
Great post!
TFS and regards,

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  • Heaven Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 996 W: 123 N: 2341] (7912)
  • [2010-01-21 13:12]

Hi Loot!

Your picture is as impressive as beautiful. It has a great impact on the viewer and the strange animal with its surprising colours does not leave the viewer unaffected. I can't believe that some viewers would be offensed, your picture shows pure nature and wildlife. Moreover, the technical aspects of the picture are perfect. From my point of view, I don't know how the composition, the exposition, the lighting and the colour management could be improved. But more important than this is the impact of the picture on the viewer. Together with your detailed and instructive notes, this is a very valuable posting.

Kind regards


Hi Loot.
Well done..You are brave...This is a natural picture and tfs.
Pose, colors and details very good and nice composition...Photo quality perfect...Exclusive picture...

Hi Loot,
Must say I really liked your notes and this photo is really special. Not always easy to catch them like this. Great image. I saw a strange site at the mine this week. The monkeys were chased by a big baboon and we all know what he wanted to do but right behind him was a big male Vervet Monkey chasing the baboon and the baboon actually got chased off by the monkey.
Very well done and thanks for sharing.

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  • roges Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 957 W: 0 N: 1329] (6264)
  • [2010-01-22 11:58]

Hello Loot,
splendid capture the monkeys. Employment and superb play.
Colors and details top, congratulations.
Have a nice weekend,

Hi dear Loot ,
It is perfect shot.
Waonderful details and nice sharpness.

Kind regards

Hi Loot, Ideal composition of this pert looking monkey. The crop enhances his good looks. I'm leased you left all the tail in this capture. TFS. Murray.

Hi my friend,
Having just lived for three weeks with Vervet Monkeys - around me as well as above me on the roof of our cottage - I am very interested in the different colour shades of body-hair; i.e. your animal photographed in lower Sabie at approx 500 - 600 metres is quite different from the ones in Crystal Springs at 1778 metres.

I assume, the "mountain" monkeys need warmer clothes (so did we); but the daily rain will also effect the fur.

I also notice, the veld is really brown (the photo taken in October), I was under the obviously wrong impression, that this area has more rainfall than further north.

I cannot add any compliments about your perfect photographic technique, which other, more knowledgeable members have not yet written!

Your notes are highly interesting, and I find at least 50 % of the fun in TrekNature in all the facts diligent members like you dig up!

Great Monkey Business, Loot
Have a nice evening,
Kind Regards

great capture, TFS Ori

Dear Loot,

Poor guy, I wonder if he is embarrassed; what points in the course of evolution caused this oddity, if other animals notice and wonder.

You guessed it by now, I added him and his blue balls to my theme "nature's oddities"

Thanks for sharing.

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