Free of teaching (it’s Reading Week), David Bickford was surfing the net, perusing NPR and happy to see colleague Antonia Monteiro quoted in a piece about blue color in animals [“How Animals Hacked The Rainbow And Got Stumped On Blue,” by Rae Ellen Bichel. NPR, 12 Nov 2014].
“Everywhere you look, organisms have been inventing different solutions to creating the same color,” says Antonia Monteiro, who studies butterfly wings in Singapore.
Monteiro says a lot of animals use different materials to get the same effect. Butterfly wings are sheathed in reflective scales made of chitin, the same stuff that makes a crab’s shell hard. And a 2012 study found that some birds use bubble-laced keratin (the same stuff that human fingernails are made of) in the barbs of their feathers; it scatters the light from the feather in a way that happens to look blue to humans.
All that blue not pigmented! Head over to the NPR page.
Thanks for the alert, David!
From August 2014 on NPR, see also “Butterfly Shifts From Shabby To Chic With A Tweak Of The Scales“.