To illustrate a point I am trying to make in a paper I am writing it would be helpful to have an example of an organism that by default has "no color" but which can adopt the color of something in its environment (e.g., through some chameleon-like color changing ability or something like the food-derived pigments that give flamingos their pink color). I could just make up such an organism for illustrative purposes, but it would be nice if there were a non-contrived example.

By "no color"/"colorless" I'm thinking of something like translucency/transparency, but I can be flexible about the exact meaning so long as it can plausibly be construed as involving a lack of color.

Is there an animal that by default is colorless/transparent/translucent but which has the ability to take on colors present in its environment?

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    $\begingroup$ If you broaden the context to include all organisms then many microbes can be good candidates $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' Oct 29 at 7:08
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    $\begingroup$ @another'Homosapien' that works for me! I only specified animals because that’s what immediately sprung to mind. Any organism that doesn’t require an exhaustive description to explain its color properties semi-evocatively should work. I’ll broaden the question, thanks! $\endgroup$ – Dennis Oct 29 at 7:15
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe someone will have answers and I'd be curious to see examples, but I'm not sure such organisms are very realistic. Organisms typically change colors by playing on the pigments they display to the outside... But to be translucent they cannot have any pigments either outside OR inside. This organism would have to change colors based on another mechanism (like diffraction; not impossible but don't know examples), or change color by creating pigments on the fly from colorless precursors (which sounds slow), or eat colored foods (most likely mechanism to my mind but again, idk about examples). $\endgroup$ – Oosaka Oct 29 at 11:13
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    $\begingroup$ @Dennis that's what I mean, to be translucent an organism has to be translucent all the way through. There is no such thing as "translucent on the outside and opaque on the inside", that's just "opaque" (I mean, if you go that way the very outer layer of our skin is translucent!). So for an organism to be translucent but change color, it needs to 1) contain pigments (because changing the pigments changes the color) and 2) not contain pigments (because pigments by definition are not translucent). If you allow isolated opaque organs that can be another workaround I guess. $\endgroup$ – Oosaka Oct 29 at 16:36
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    $\begingroup$ Now that you say that any organism will fit just fine, there are a ton of microbes that can be good candidates. Instead of trying to list them here, I think it's better to actually have a look at some like this (instagram link; the account posts a lot of photos/videos of microbes, and the linked post shows a Rotifer with blue blobs from the algae it just ate, just mentioned that to give you some examples, not for advertisement :) $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' Oct 30 at 16:27

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