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Structural absorption by barbule microstructures of super black bird of paradise feathers

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      Abstract

      Many studies have shown how pigments and internal nanostructures generate color in nature. External surface structures can also influence appearance, such as by causing multiple scattering of light (structural absorption) to produce a velvety, super black appearance. Here we show that feathers from five species of birds of paradise (Aves: Paradisaeidae) structurally absorb incident light to produce extremely low-reflectance, super black plumages. Directional reflectance of these feathers (0.05–0.31%) approaches that of man-made ultra-absorbent materials. SEM, nano-CT, and ray-tracing simulations show that super black feathers have titled arrays of highly modified barbules, which cause more multiple scattering, resulting in more structural absorption, than normal black feathers. Super black feathers have an extreme directional reflectance bias and appear darkest when viewed from the distal direction. We hypothesize that structurally absorbing, super black plumage evolved through sensory bias to enhance the perceived brilliance of adjacent color patches during courtship display.

      Abstract

      Physical structure is known to contribute to the appearance of bird plumage through structural color and specular reflection. Here, McCoy, Feo, and colleagues demonstrate how a third mechanism, structural absorption, leads to low reflectance and super black color in birds of paradise feathers.

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        MicroCT for developmental biology: a versatile tool for high-contrast 3D imaging at histological resolutions.

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        Understanding developmental processes requires accurate visualization and parameterization of three-dimensional embryos. Tomographic imaging methods offer automatically aligned and calibrated volumetric images, but the usefulness of X-ray CT imaging for developmental biology has been limited by the low inherent contrast of embryonic tissues. Here, I demonstrate simple staining methods that allow high-contrast imaging of embryonic tissues at histological resolutions using a commercial microCT system. Quantitative comparisons of images of chick embryos treated with different contrast agents show that three very simple methods using inorganic iodine and phosphotungstic acid produce overall contrast and differential tissue contrast for X-ray imaging at least as high as that obtained with osmium. The stains can be used after any common fixation and after storage in aqueous or alcoholic media, and on a wide variety of species. These methods establish microCT imaging as a useful tool for comparative developmental studies, embryo phenotyping, and quantitative modeling of development. (c) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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          Comparison of structure and properties of femtosecond and nanosecond laser-structured silicon

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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]ISNI 000000041936754X, GRID grid.38142.3c, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, , Harvard University, ; Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
            [2 ]ISNI 0000 0000 8716 3312, GRID grid.1214.6, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, MRC-116, National Museum of Natural History, , Smithsonian Institution, ; Washington, DC 20013 USA
            [3 ]ISNI 0000000419368710, GRID grid.47100.32, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Peabody Museum of Natural History, , Yale University, ; New Haven, CT 06520 USA
            Contributors
            ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0001-8383-8084, dakotamccoy@g.harvard.edu
            Journal
            Nat Commun
            Nat Commun
            Nature Communications
            Nature Publishing Group UK (London )
            2041-1723
            9 January 2018
            9 January 2018
            2018
            : 9
            29317637
            5760687
            2088
            10.1038/s41467-017-02088-w
            © The Author(s) 2017

            Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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