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Turacin (Tauraco bannermani wing, left) compared to carotenoids (Ramphocelus bresilius belly, right). Green in center is due to turacoverdin.

Turacin is a naturally occurring red pigment that is 6% copper complexed to uroporphyrin III. Arthur Herbert Church discovered turacin in 1869.[1]

It is found only in the bird family Musophagidae, the turacos.[2] Other birds derive their red coloration from carotenoids (bright and orange-reds) or phaeomelanins (rusty and brownish-reds).

It is often assumed that this coloration will wash out when the birds are bathing or after heavy rains, but this is true only if the water used for bathing happens to be very alkaline.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Church, A. H. (1869). "Researches on Turacin, an Animal Pigment Containing Copper". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. 159: 627–636. doi:10.1098/rstl.1869.0024. JSTOR 109012.
  2. ^ Online Medical Dictionary