Unraveled the secret of the very black wings of the birds of paradise

The secret of the very black wings of the birds of paradise, heavenly, light, feathers, very visible, absorbs, Vantablack, feathers, this, also, waves, can, which, case, New, ability, when, Guinea, crests, thanks

American scientists, intrigued by the deep black color of the feathers of some species of birds of paradise, examined their structure under an electron microscope. It turned out that black color is not due to pigments - melanins - as is usually the case with birds.
But what ...
The thing is in the structure of the feather beard, at the ends of which there is a “fringe” of nano-growths. This structure perfectly absorbs light - up to 99.95% of the visible spectrum, which leads to a very rich black color. In terms of absorption, the feathers of birds of paradise are close to Vantablack - the blackest known material.
In nature, color can be formed in two ways - pigment and structural. In the first case, it occurs due to special molecules - pigments that selectively absorb, reflect or emit light with a specific wavelength. In the second case, the color depends on the surface structure,upon which the light falls and which selectively absorbs and / or reflects it. A particular variant of structural coloration is structural absorption, that is, the absorption of light by a surface. If all or almost all of the visible spectrum is absorbed in this way, a black color is obtained.
To begin with, feathers were studied using a spectrophotometer and a DH-2000-BAL deuterium-halogen light source from Ocean Optics. This source, thanks to deuterium and halogen lamps, as well as special filters, can, in particular, give the output light of a given intensity, as part of which the entire visible spectrum is equally represented. This makes it possible to avoid distortions in the spectra of the studied samples, since they are illuminated by a balanced light beam.
The secret of the very black wings of the birds of paradise, heavenly, light, feathers, very visible, absorbs, Vantablack, feathers, this, also, waves, can, which, case, New, ability, when, Guinea, crests, thanks

The reflectivity (% of reflected light) of feathers of six species of birds of paradise and melampitta.
Spectrophotometry has shown that super black plumage reflects only 0.05–0.31% of light (that is, absorbs up to 99.95% of the visible spectrum). And the usual black feathers (of a paradise crow, melampitta, and those that were taken from the back of a wonderful bird of paradise) reflect one or even two orders of magnitude more: 3.2–4.7% of radiation.
These values ​​indicate that the light absorbing ability of the superblack feathers of birds of paradise approaches artificial materials with a very high degree of absorption. So, the blackest material today - Vantablack - absorbs 99.965% of visible light. Vantablack consists of vertically oriented carbon nanotubes, and absorption occurs due to the fact that light penetrates into the material, where multiple reflections from the walls of the nanotubes occur.
The secret of the very black wings of the birds of paradise, heavenly, light, feathers, very visible, absorbs, Vantablack, feathers, this, also, waves, can, which, case, New, ability, when, Guinea, crests, thanks

In addition to the feathers of birds of paradise, the wings of some butterflies absorb light well. Absorbing up to 98–99% of visible light, it also looks very black. This is due to the special microstructure of the scales. (Recall that the wings of the butterflies are covered with small scales overlapping one another according to the shingles principle.) Super black scales of the male Troides aeacus butterfly from the family of sailing vessels (Papilionidae, Fig. A) consist of an upper anti-glare part and a thin film under it. The upper part consists of uniformly distributed Λ-shaped ridges.
The ridges are interconnected jumpers - veins. As a result, a lattice is formed with oblong holes with dimensions of about 490 × 380 nm (and a diagonal of about 620 nm, Figs. C – e).
The secret of the very black wings of the birds of paradise, heavenly, light, feathers, very visible, absorbs, Vantablack, feathers, this, also, waves, can, which, case, New, ability, when, Guinea, crests, thanks

Since the wavelength of visible light falls in the range of 380–780 nm, the size of the holes allows most of the visible light to penetrate into them. Photons of light "come" in the hole and repeatedly reflected from them. Light with a longer wavelength is mainly reflected from the ridges, since it cannot pass through the holes. Repeated reflection leads to the absorption of light - as in the case of Vantablack.
The low reflectivity of feathers makes these birds seem flat: it looks especially strange when the male L. superba performs a mating dance in front of the female. As you can see in the photo, at some moments of this dance, the male turns into a completely flat black figure with an azure pattern:
Researchers believe that black feathers have developed in birds of paradise due to sexual selection; against the background of velvety deep black, bright elements of their plumage look more advantageous and give preference to males with maximally black feathers during mating rituals, which in paradise birds always include a show of parade plume.
“The feathers of the black birds of paradise are very tough and durable, and are made of very cheap material.If we manage to describe the structure of the feathers so that we can print something like this on a 3D printer, I’m sure we would use such material, ”said ornithologist from California Academy of Sciences Jack Dumbacher in an interview with Wired.
The secret of the very black wings of the birds of paradise, heavenly, light, feathers, very visible, absorbs, Vantablack, feathers, this, also, waves, can, which, case, New, ability, when, Guinea, crests, thanks

Birds of paradise (lat. Paradisaeidae, English Bird of Paradise) - the closest relatives to our crows and the size are from jay to lark.
The first skins of birds of paradise made a real sensation in Europe. They were brought to Spain in 1522 by sailors from the only one of the four Magellan ships who returned to their homeland. Skins were without legs and bones. And, despite the assurances of Pigafetta, the historiographer of this voyage, that the birds of paradise have legs, a legend has prevailed for centuries: the birds of paradise do not need legs, because from birth to death they live as if in the air, feeding on "heavenly dew" . They breed and incubate chicks also on the fly: on the back of the male there are eggs, the female, sitting on top, heats them.
And only in 1824, the French ship's physician René Lesson saw in the forests of New Guinea a living bird of paradise: she was with her legs and cheerfully jumping along the branches! Paradise birds were killed by tens of thousands, their feathers were bought for ladies' hats and other decorations.In just a few years of the German colonization of the northeast of New Guinea, more than 50 thousand skins of the birds of paradise were taken from this island.
The secret of the very black wings of the birds of paradise, heavenly, light, feathers, very visible, absorbs, Vantablack, feathers, this, also, waves, can, which, case, New, ability, when, Guinea, crests, thanks

Now the hunt for them is prohibited, except when it is conducted for scientific purposes, as well as for the needs of the Papuans, who have decorated themselves with feathers for centuries. Formerly, not many birds of paradise were destroyed for making such ornaments.
In recent years, when tourists in the set come to look at local national holidays, feather decorations, which dancers dressed up on holidays, cost no less than a million dollars. This new threat to the birds of paradise brought civilization to the forests of New Guinea and other nearby islands, where they are found.

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