Excerpt from the book Animals Evolution Avoided. This book describes 40 animals that ought to exist but don’t, because I made them up.
The Mambutterfly is the name given to large elephant-size creatures found in the Siberian permafrost, which had multi-coloured coats as opposed to the single-colour coats of their cousins the Mammoth.
The Mambutterflies fed on mosses, lichens, and other vegetation that contained powerful colouring agents, which changed the colour of their coat. These colouring agents came from the rock the plants grew on. These rocks contained copper, zinc, and mercury. Plants growing on rock containing copper gave the mambutterfly’s coat red-brown colours; plants growing on zinc deposits gave the mambutterfly’s coat blue colours, and plants growing on rocks containing mercury stained the mambutterfly’s coat a silvery-grey colour.
As a result, most mambutterflies were a mixture of blue, red, and silver, which meant they stood out against the tundra in the winter and against the grasslands in the summer. The coats of the mambutterflies were highly prized by the early humans in the region as each coat’s elaborate patterns were unique and couldn’t be copied by a human eye. For this reason, scientists believe the mambutterflies were hunted almost to extinction. Eventually, the remaining creatures journeyed north, far away from the grasslands and the humans found there, to the northern coast of Russia on the shores of the Arctic Ocean.
This migration meant their diet changed slightly and they started to eat mosses that were growing on granite and other rocks, which contained fewer metals. Consequently, the coats of the mambutterflies turned black. It’s believed the creatures suffered from anxiety at the loss of their beautifully coloured coats and headed back south to try and regain their former glory. These annual journeys between south and north are the first known migrations of animals.