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The chemical structure of the pigments in Ara macao plumage.

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Facoltà di Farmacia, Istituto di Chimica Organica, Università di Milano, Via Venezian, 21 20133, Milano, Italy.


Parrots (Psittaciformes) harbor unusually bright, non-carotenoid, feather pigments. We successfully extracted and purified a sufficient quantity of pigment from the red plumage of the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) for a partial chemical analysis. The extracts were analyzed by HPLC coupled with UV-VIS and mass spectroscopy before and after total hydrogenation. We found at least four pigment components. We propose a linear polyenal structure comparable with the molecules tetradecahexenal, hexadecaheptenal, octadecaoctenal and eicosanonenal.

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